Fact Pattern and Questions

Fact Pattern and Questions

CRJ420 – Criminal Justice and the Constitution

Colorado State University Global


Amy, a known prostitute, was arrested by Officer Smith on possession of drug paraphernalia and prostitution. Based on the information provided in the fact pattern, there are many instances in which Amy’s constitutional rights are violated.

Prior to her arrest, Amy had been standing outside of her parked vehicle, with the driver side door open, in a McDonald’s parking lot. Officer Smith noticed her in the parking lot and immediately assumed she was up to no good since he had arrested her in the past. According to the ACLU (n.d.), going into this situation with a pre-established bias would very likely impair Officer Smith’s judgement of the situation.

With his bias firm in his mind, Smith immediately conducted a pat search in which he touched her exposed skin. There are two things very wrong with this part of the situation: (1) pat searches are permissible if the officer has reasonable suspicion to believe that the suspect is concealing a weapon, and (2) pat searches must be confined to the suspects outer clothing (Samaha, 2018). Additionally, her Fourth Amendment rights have been violated by Officer Smith and his unreasonable search and seizure.

After finding nothing on her person, Smith demands to see her purse so that he can conduct a search. She willingly gives it over and Smith quickly finds the drug paraphernalia. Now that he has his evidence, Officer Smith looked into her car, reached in to pop the trunk and found twenty 100-dollar bills. Some might argue that Officer Smith would be limited to the “plain view” doctrine, but even if Officer Smith had begun this situation in a proper manner he would not legally be able to search her purse nor conduct a search of the vehicle. The drug paraphernalia and cash had been seized illegally. Regardless, in his mind, Smith felt he had her.

Officer Smith arrested Amy at that point, read her the Miranda warning, and placed her in his patrol vehicle. Once she is in the vehicle, Smith begins probing her for more information, but she tells the officer that she wants a lawyer. Despite this, he continues asking her questions. Amy has invoked her Miranda rights and any statements she makes from this point forward are inadmissible (Nolo, 2015). After invoking her right, Amy makes mention of Bill, a well known former drug dealer.

Amy is taken to the station, where she is appointed a public defender and goes before Judge Meyer, who also has a well established bias against Amy. Annoyed with seeing her again on prostitution charges, Meyer sets her bail to $100,000; an amount ten times the usual fine for prostitution. Amy’s rights are again violated. The Eighth Amendment prohibits excessive bail. With such a high bail, Amy is forced to stay in jail until her trial.

There are very few instances in which Amy’s constitutional rights are protected and they only occur once Amy has legal representation. Amy’s public defender, Attorney Jones, requested that the charges be dropped because there is no evidence to support any claims made by Officer Smith. He also asks that the drug paraphernalia charges be dropped because the evidence had been obtained illegally. The charges do not get dropped, and Amy’s trial is set for 10 months later.


Once Bill is brought into the situation, he also experiences constitutional violations. He is arrested in his home on charges of resisting arrest, obstruction of justice, and possession of a controlled substance.

Amy had uttered that Bill, a well known former drug dealer, had nothing to do with her. The mention of Bill, though, prompted Officer Smith to seek out a warrant. He went to Judge Meyer and explained to him that he needed the warrant so that he could “bust” Bill for drug distribution. He told the judge that Bill was Amy’s drug dealer and that he can prove it with the warrant. Judge Meyer went for it, knowing Amy’s reputation, and didn’t ask for supporting evidence.

Justia (2019) tell us that issuance of a valid search warrant must meet four requirements:

It must be filed in good faith by the officer;

It must be based upon reliable information, showing probable cause;

The issuing magistrate must be a neutral party;

Specific places and items must be detailed in the warrant.

Officer Smith did not meet any of these requirements.

With his improperly issued search warrant, Officer Smith enters the home of Bill, though it is not Bill who lets him in, but rather his tennant, Peter, who after realizing the situation, quickly leaves. Smith searched the home, pushing his way into Peter’s room where he discovers marijuana on an end table. Smith’s warrant was issued to him improperly, but he continues to overstep his bounds; any evidence found belonging to the tennant is obtained illegally.

With the evidence found in the roommate’s room, Bill is arrested. During the arrest, Bill’s dog, Muffy, charges in and begins barking at the men. Officer Smith, who already has handcuffs on Bill, threatens Bill to subdue the dog or he will shoot it. Bill is not able to do anything with the cuffs on, and when Muffy moves in closer, Smith shoots him. While this may sound like excessive force, Smith can easily prove the perception of a threat, security immunity.

Bill is taken to jail and his case is referred to a District Attorney who requests that Bill stay in jail until the trial based on the violations of his probation. Bill was assigned the same public defender as Amy, who, at this point, was completely overwhelmed with his caseload. Attorney Jones did not look at Bill’s case before pushing Bill to take a plea bargain. Attorney Jones is so overworked that he actually gave Bill the wrong plea bargain, and continued to heavily pressure him into taking it. Bill, not entirely knowledgeable about the legal system, depended on his attorney for legal advice. The Sixth Amendment gives us the right to counsel which encompasses a right to effective counsel. By providing Bill with an overloaded attorney, his rights are being violated.

Bill signed his plea deal under the impression that he would pay a fine, do community service, there’d be no jail time and the charges of resisting arrest and obstruction of justice would be dropped. Bill was also under the impression that the drug charge would be a misdemeanor charge that could be expunged in three years. The deal that Bill actually signed stated that he agreed to a felony possession charge and six months in jail. Once he found out, Bill desperately tried to appeal but was told he could not. This is another violation of his rights as defendants are allowed to appeal determinations against them and the appellate court cannot refuse to hear an appeal.

At no time during this entire ordeal is Bill afforded any protections of his rights beyond being afforded an attorney, who proves to be ineffectual.


ACLU. (n.d.). Stopped by Police. Retrieved from https://www.aclu.org/know-your-rights/stopped-by-police/

Justia. (2019, August 29). Search and Seizure Frequently Asked Questions. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from https://www.justia.com/criminal/docs/search-seizure-faq/

Nolo. (2015, May 21). Police Questioning After the Suspect Claims Miranda. Retrieved April 5, 2020, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/questioning-after-claiming-miranda.html

Samaha, J. (2018). Criminal Procedure (10th ed.). Stamford, CT: Cengage Learning.

U.S. Const. Amend IV

U.S. Const. Amend VI

U.S. Const. Amend. VIII.