BCJ 3701, Criminal Investigation 2
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Unit I Case Study
The case you are going to discuss is one that actually happened in the United States. The vital information has been changed or deleted to protect the identity of the agency, former law enforcement members, and locations. The case will soon be heard in state supreme court.
The local police narcotics division received intelligence from a criminal informant that a hydroponic supply shop in the area was growing marijuana and selling it in the shop during store hours and after hours. Narcotics detectives placed a camera for surveillance outside the shop’s location. They followed one patron to his private residence. The narcotics detectives entered the patrons’ property several times over the course of two weeks by climbing a fence to get a clear view of the property and the inside of the house. They found several marijuana plants, some growing equipment, and paraphernalia. Upon deciding that they had enough evidence to raid and make an arrest, the officers seized a DVD from a security camera that showed them climbing a fence to obtain access to the property. The sergeant in charge of the investigation ordered the DVD destroyed.
Shortly after this incident, the same narcotics officers disguised themselves as power company employees and municipal water workers to obtain records from both utilities to prove that a grow-house operation existed at a residence within their jurisdiction. They conducted surveillance of the residence in these uniforms as well as entered an office of the power company, disguised as employees, to obtain official records. Their justification for doing this was that they could smell a strong odor of marijuana from the residence adjacent to the residence in question as well as when they passed the residence on the sidewalk. The narcotics officers utilized the camera system they placed across from the hydroponic shop to obtain license plates and addresses of people that stopped at the store. The narcotics officers utilized a tactic known as knock and talk, where they approached homes without a search warrant 84 times, knocked on the door, and talked to the residents. They stated that they believed the residents were growing marijuana and requested to search their homes. During those 84 times, they found marijuana 34 times but found nothing the other times. In several cases, they found hydroponic vegetables and fruit growing in the backyards and inside the apartments.
This unit consisted of a sergeant, corporal, and two detectives. They later resigned to avoid internal affairs investigations. A defense attorney later determined that in the first case they illegally jumped/climbed the fence because there was no search warrant. They were armed with their agency issued firearms in both incidents. The case is scheduled to be heard in the state supreme court next year.
Write a two- to three-page report explaining what information in Chapter 2 of the textbook applies to this situation. Identify all legal concepts you feel need addressing.