Fine officers for illegal searches and seizures.
My proposed legislation for police misconduct would impose a fine directly on police officers who violate your fourth amendment rights by illegally searching you. The fine would be imposed personally on the officer – not the police department which is ultimately paid for by the tax payers. The fine would be remitted to the victims.
What happens when you park your car and the meter expires? A officer can write you a citation. Following this, a court, the parking enforcement bureau, DPS, and the DMV will work together to make sure that fine is payed. They will use force of law, to make sure that you are financially punished for doing something that caused no injury to anyone, and violated no rights.
However, if you are stopped by an officer, who decides based on your race and the way that you are dressed, that you might be in possession of drugs – you may have your constitutionally protected rights violated with absolutely no recourse and no consequences for the officer.
Consider this, and officer sets up a checkpoint, or has stopped you for turning without the use of your blinker. Whether you broke the law or not, you are going to be asked to show your license. If the officer decides based on your race an appearance, that there is a good chance he’ll be able to find drugs in your car, he will ask to search your vehicle. You can refuse, and he can then forcibly remove you from your car, and search. Your rights have now been violated. You currently have no recourse.
But isn’t this a violation of your basic constitutional rights?
Here’s the scam. If the officer finds pot, even under the passenger seat because you were giving someone else a ride and it fell out of their pocket, you can be charged with possession. The officer didn’t have any reason to search your vehicle, but he can always claim after the fact that he could see it from outside the car, or that he smelled it – either of which would give him probable cause to search your vehicle, and allow any court to use that evidence against you.
Even if he doesn’t claim this, the very best you could do is claim that he didn’t have probable cause, and have the evidence omitted from trial and your case dismissed. You will still spend several days in court, possibly a few days in jail, have to pay hundreds or thousands of dollars to a bail bondsman, and hire an expensive attorney to argue that point. Yes, an expensive attorney, because cheap attorneys want to take your money and convince you to just plea guilty, and I haven’t met a single public defense attorney who would put forth that kind of effort to actually protect your rights. Win or lose in court, you lose. You lose money, you lose time, your record shows an arrest and indictment, and your future is questionable.
And if the officer finds nothing?
He has wasted your time and he has violated your fourth amendment rights. What good are rights if they are not protected? What’s to stop him from violating any of your other rights? All of your rights need to be protected, even if there is no quantifiable damage done.
An officer stops 20 cars, and searches them all, finding pot in only one car. For that car, the officer will claim that he smelled pot, and the court would believe him because he actually found pot in the car. He also claimed to smell it in 19 other cars, and found nothing. But the driver who was caught doesn’t know this and can’t use it to his defense.
So what is the solution?
A simple solution would be to impose the fine on an officer for violating that right, even though no actual damage was caused.
Consider the results. Would an officer risk getting fined $500 19 times, violating 20 people’s rights, to make a single arrest for his quota?
The constitution was meant to restrict the government – not the people, but the government has created all kinds of laws and penalties to arbitrarily tax it’s citizens for things like turning without a blinker, forgetting to put on your seatbelt or letting your meter expire. Arguably these are all things that you shouldn’t do, but don’t quite justify the associated tax. If the tax is simply there to ensure that you follow the law, why aren’t there penalties in place to ensure that the government and it’s employees follow the law?
You can read more about the proposed police accountability legislation here: https://secure.accountableauthority.com/Proposed_police_accountability_act.htm
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