A little over a decade ago, a new mayor took office in Baltimore and ordered the police to crack down, to take a “zero tolerance” approach to crime. In particular neighborhoods and high crime areas, they were told to make arrests on charges as minor as littering. This approach, however, may have led to many unlawful arrests, a fact not lost on the city who has recently settled a handful of lawsuits.
In the first few years following the new policies, crime reportedly dropped. Supporters of those policies state they deterred criminals by placing them in fear of immediate arrest. But, within 5 years crime began to rise again; arrests were up; and charges were being dropped left and right.
According to the Baltimore Sun, arrests in the city reached an all time high in 2005 at 108,000 or one for every six people. Since then, the arrest rate has dropped by more than 30,000. Law enforcement is focusing on smart arrests rather than quantity and the courts are seeing fewer cases dropped.
The lawsuits involving wrongful arrests include things as little as a loitering arrest for sitting on the stops of an aunt’s home and a littering charge for dropping a candy wrapper in the street. These two cases resulted in two arrests of the same 18 year old within the span of one month.
Along with money agreed on in the settlement, law enforcement will be adopting some new policies. Officers will be retrained to avoid wrongful arrests and supervisors will review what are called “quality of life” arrests.
Police must balance public safety with common sense and can never infringe on citizen’s Constitutional rights. This is true from the moment they begin questioning you until you are in jail and in front of the court. Everything from how you are questioned to how you are searched and detained must be done according to procedures designed to protect your rights.
Sometimes if the police run afoul of these procedures an entire criminal case can be thrown out. Whether your arrest was unjustified or the evidence against you was seized illegally, these things sometimes erroneously referred to as “technicalities” are designed to keep integrity within the system.
A defense attorney is there to ensure your rights are protected. Contact me today to discuss the details of your case. We can talk about your arrest and any other aspects that may be concerning you.