George F. Hildebrandt
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April 2015 Archives

Dog Sniffs are Not Routine Traffic Stop Procedures: Rodriguez v. United States

In a drastic shift in Fourth Amendment jurisprudence, the Supreme Court recently decided that, absent reasonable suspicion, an officer cannot extend a traffic stop to conduct a dog sniff of the vehicle. Any stop that exceeds the time necessary to handle the initial reason for the stop is an unreasonable seizure

Surveillance Camera Systems: Are They Really Preventing Crime?

Video surveillance systems are popping up all over the United States.  Law enforcement has taken an aggressive approach by employing dozens, if not hundreds, of surveillance cameras in cities and towns.  A few major justifications for employing the technology include that (1) police can respond to crime quickly by observing criminal behavior in real time, and (2) the cameras prevent crime simply through their presence.  Despite these efforts, evidence from academic literature derived based on years of study indicates that video surveillance systems do not have a significant impact on crime in the United States.  To boot, multiple studies in the United Kingdom reveal that there is no statistical information to support cameras having a significant impact on crime./p>

Regulatory Crimes

When most people think about different types of crimes, they usually consider historically common crimes such as theft, assault, fraud, and murder.  Crimes typically contain two major elements - an act, known as "actus reus," and "mens rea," or mental state.  As a result of the anatomy of criminal laws, prosecutors are required to prove all of the elements of a crime if they wish to win a conviction.  An article titled "Federal Crimes and the Destruction of Law" discusses the nature of prosecutorial discretion in pursuing charges against a defendant and quotes former U.S. Attorney General Robert H. Jackson, who warned that federal prosecutors risked "losing perspective on the limits of their powers" and the "danger was that prosecutors would target individuals for prosecution, and then look for a crime to prosecute."

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