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6 of the Most Common Mistakes Police Make

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Being a police officer is not easy. The stress of the job is greater than most people can imagine. And the issues the police deal with are more intense than we realize. It is important to understand the kind of toll that police work takes on the people who perform it. That’s because the weight of the job leads directly to the most common mistakes police make.

The cops deserve our support and sympathy. But they also require accountability. The undeniable fact is that the most common mistakes police make happen all the time. And when they do, defendants end up in the justice system unlawfully. The police have a hard job to do. But they must follow the rules to the letter if justice is going to be fair and blind.

Common Mistakes Police Make

Anyone charged with a crime must know about the most common mistakes police make. When a mistake occurs during your arrest, the entire process is called into question. A police mistake is enough to build an entire defense around in some cases. Here are 6 to be aware of:

Lack of Probable Cause

The police must have a good reason to stop you. This is known as probable cause. It is not enough that you look suspicious or seem out of place. If an officer does not have a probable cause than stopping you is illegal. It does not matter what evidence an investigation turns up later. If probable cause does not exist in a case, it is possible to throw out all charges. In their zeal to stop offenders, the police often act without probable cause. A solid defense attorney can examine the circumstances of a stop and determine if probable cause existed.

Arrest By an Undercover Officer

The police work undercover on a regular basis. They often disguise their clothes or car to avoid showing themselves as police. But it is illegal to make an arrest while working undercover. An offer can work out of an unmarked car. But they cannot make an arrest unless they are in uniform. This may seem like a minor designation. However, it is one of the common mistakes police make, and it directly violates a defendant’s rights.

Misconduct During an Arrest

There are strict rules and specific policies an officer must follow while making an arrest. The details are complex, but the point is that people under arrest still have rights. If an officer uses force, arrogance, or verbal abuse, those are all examples of misconduct. An arrest is illegal unless carried out according to strict procedures. The challenge for the defendant is that proof of misconduct must exist for it to benefit the case. The growing use of police body cams provides objective evidence, but it is still difficult to build a case. An experienced defense attorney knows how to examine the facts and details for any instance of misconduct.

No Miranda Rights

You probably know the Miranda Rights by heart just from watching cop shows. They are an explanation of your fifth amendment rights that officers must read you at the time of your arrest. It is established that an arrest without Miranda Rights is unlawful. Cops are carefully trained, but in the heat of the moment, it is possible to break protocol. When routines are not followed to the letter during all arrests, common mistakes police make are frequent.

Poor Performance in Court

In court, it is the arresting officer’s word against yours. If an officer testifying against you is unprepared, unaware, or unfamiliar, it calls their testimony into question. This happens more often than you think. A lot of time passes between an arrest and a court date. And even though it is an officer’s job to prepare for court, many neglect the duty. A defense attorney with cunning will seize onto this fact to help the defendant’s case.

Breaking Evidence Protocol

The evidence presented in court determines your future. That means nothing must happen to the evidence to alter how it is analyzed and interpreted. Strict protocols exist to define how evidence must be gathered, handled, transported, and stored. And if any part of this protocol is broken, the quality of the evidence is suspect. Examining the treatment of evidence is one of the most reliable ways to identify common mistakes police make.

Spotting police mistakes is hard enough. Actually using them to your advantage is even tougher. The police and prosecutors have at lot at stake. And no one is eager to admit their mistakes. If you are facing criminal charges, securing quality legal representation is your most urgent priority. Reach out to The Law Office of Gary M. Wilson by calling 313-246-8885.

About Us

Gary M. Wilson began trying cases in 1988 in the Office of the Wayne County Prosecuting Attorney in Detroit, Michigan. In 1992 he entered private trial practice as a criminal defense lawyer. Licensed to practice in Michigan and Massachusetts, he has also been admitted to practice before the United States District Court of the Eastern District of Michigan.


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  • 313-246-8885
  • Wilson Law
    21002 Mack Avenue
    Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236
    Phone: 313-246-8885

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Wilson Law - Detroit DUI Lawyer Wilson Law
21002 Mack Avenue
Grosse Pointe Woods, MI 48236
FREE CONSULTATION: 313-246-8885