Five Questions: A Thursday Cop and Crime-Scene Quiz for Writers

Okay, today is quiz day here at The Graveyard Shift. So sharpen your pencils (we’re not high tech), take a seat at your desks, and then you may begin.

Miranda. Yes or No?

  • Johnny I. Lawbreaker was arrested at the scene of a burglary. A man walking his dog, a toy poodle named Ralph, saw Lawbreaker enter the home through a side window. The witness called the police and within a minute or two a patrol car showed up and the two officers nabbed the crook as he climbed feet first from the open window. In his right hand was a money bag filled with cash. The bag was clearly labeled with the homeowners first and last name.

The officers handcuffed Lawbreaker and hauled him to the local jail. He was allowed to post bond and later appeared in court to answer to the charges of Breaking and Entering and Larceny. Prior to his testimony Lawbreaker appeared confident and even occasionally smiled at jury members, the arresting officers, and the DA. After the prosecutor finished her opening statement Lawbreaker, having waived his right to an attorney, was representing himself, stood an addressed the court by saying, “Your Honor, I’d like for you to dismiss all charges because the officers never read me my rights, and the law states that they must. They violated my constitutional rights. Thank you.”

The judge, the Honorable Tommy T. Toughasnails, said, “Motion denied. Madam prosecutor, you may continue. “Law breaker was flabbergasted. He wondered how the judge could allow such a flagrant violation? After all, he thought, it’s right there in the constitution—When a person is arrested, police officers must immediately advise them of their rights.

Question – When making arrests, are police officers required by law to advise suspects of their rights? If so, is there a specific time and/or place to do so (at the spot of the arrest, for example?) At the police station/jail?

The One Phone Call

  • Police arrested Steve Legalbeaglewannabe and are now inside the department booking area. The prisoner rants and complains and hollers about his constitutional right to a phone call. “I want to call my wife and I demand that you take me to a phone right now! You idiots are violating my constitutional right to make a phone call. I ain’t no fool. I. Know. My. RIGHTS!”

Question – Is Leagalbeaglewannabe correct? Is there a constitutional right to be allowed that “one phone call?”

Those Lyin’ Cops

  • Ronnie Wrongway tells the judge that he shouldn’t be convicted for his crime of selling a million pounds of fentanyl to an undercover cop because the plainclothes cop lied to him, stating that he was not a police officer when Wrongway asked. During the trial the drug dealer aimed a grubby and stubby index finger at the officer and declared, “He, that fibbing cop right there, violated my constitutional rights when he lied to me. Cops must always tell the truth; therefore, I demand that all charges against me be dismissed.”

Question – Is it written in the constitution that police officers must always be truthful when dealing with criminals? Must charges be dismissed if an officers lies to a suspect during an investigation?

I Ain’t Pressing’ No Charges

  • Betty Blackeye calls the police to report an assault committed by her boyfriend. She tells the dispatcher that that Billy Buck came home from work, caught her in bed with two clowns from the circus that was in town for the week, and the next thing she knew … POW! Billy socked her in the eye. He tried fighting her two lovers but each time he bopped them in the nose they simply fell backward for a second, after releasing an odd squeaking noise, before quickly bouncing back upright.

So officers drove over to nab Billy Buck with plans of charging him with assault. When they arrived they observed Betty’s recently and badly bruised eye. However, Betty had a change of heart and began crying and begging officers to let the love of her life go. “I LOVE him,” she squalled. Between sobs she said she didn’t want to press charges, but the officers handcuffed Billy and took him to jail anyway. He was charged with assault.

Question – Was it legal for officers to arrest Billy Buck even though Betty withdrew her complaint?

Peekaboo, I See You

  • Donnie Doper called the police to report a break-in at his home. He told police that a rear door was forced open and the crooks stole his Crockpot, a socket set, and a shotgun. Police officers arrived and Donnie invited them inside to have a look around. While touring the home and taking notes one of the officers spotted a 5 lb. bag of cocaine on the kitchen table. Beside it is a set of scales and a stack of plastic bags. They arrested Donnie and confiscated the drugs and associated items.

Donnie argued that the officers illegally seized the drugs and paraphernalia because they did not possess a warrant to do so. And, since the seizure was illegal then so was his arrest. He demanded that charges be dropped.

Question – Was Donnie’s arrest illegal? Do police need a warrant in this or similar circumstances?

5 replies
  1. Carol Newsome
    Carol Newsome says:

    On #2 I believe he is entitled to a phone call, but the timing of when he gets that call is another matter.

    #4, depending on the state, police may be required to make an arrest at DV calls, using their discretion to determine the culpable party. I don’t know if that was law or policy but it was instituted around here maybe 20 years ago? I don’t know how successful the practice was/is or if it has since changed.

    #5 falls under the plain sight rule, since he invited them in.

    • Lee Lofland
      Lee Lofland says:

      If police see evidence of the crime, the domestic assault, they would make the arrest. Therefore, the case is brought by the state, not the victim, and it would up to the prosecutor as to whether or not to move toward dropping charges. Once the handcuffs go on and the subject is booked the case is at that point out of the hands of police officers.

      The victim is a witness to the crime and would receive a subpoena to testify as such. If they refuse to testify the prosecutor would rely on other evidence such as testimony from the responding officers, photos, hospital records, other eyewitness testimony, etc.

      By not having the ability to drop charges protects the victim from further abuse, such as the abuser inflicting bodily harm to prevent the victim from testifying. I’ve seen this happen many, many times. Also, a woman, for example (happens to men too) changes her mind after the male partner is on his best behavior after he posts bond … until the trial is over. And then he once again begins using the woman as a punching bag.

      In Virginia, where I worked as an officer, only the prosecutor or judge can “drop” an assault charge. In the case of domestic assault, the case must move forward unless the prosecutor moves to nolle pros (decline to prosecute) or a judge dismisses the charge. The victim may not simply call up the police or prosecutor to say, “Never mind.”.

  2. Wayne Baker
    Wayne Baker says:

    1. No need to Miranda if they did not question him.
    2. I don’t know about the phone call, but I expect the police know, so I will say his rights were probably NOT violated.
    3. Police are not required to tell the truth.
    4. Betty called and reported that Billy Buck hit her. This was substantiated by the evidence of her black eye. The police can arrest him. They do not require that she press charges.
    5. If the cocaine was in plain sight, they do not need a warrant.

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