“Know the law and be prepared.”
These are mottos that John Walter holds dear. When reviewing criminal and traffic law cases with clients Mr. Walter looks closely at the facts – he scrutinizes the police investigation and narrative searching for Constitutional errors. For example – when reviewing a traffic stop and search and seizure Mr. Walter pays particular attention to some of the following issues:
- Was this an illegal traffic stop?
State v. Williams, 401 Md. 676, 687 (Md. 2007), the Court reaffirmed the law in Maryland that “the appropriate minimum standard that will justify a traffic stop is “reasonable articulable suspicion.” “[A] traffic stop of a motorist is a seizure which implicates the Fourth Amendment, even temporary or limited restraints on the liberty of a person during a traffic stop may not be constitutionally permissible if, under all of the circumstances, the traffic stop was unreasonable. Rowe v. State, 363 Md. 424, 432-433 (Md. 2001); See also Edwards v. State, 143 Md. App 155 (2002).
- Did the police officer violate my client’s Constitutional Rights?
Did the police have probable cause to search my client’s vehicle? The rule of probable cause is a non-technical conception of a reasonable ground for belief of guilt, requiring less evidence for such belief than would justify conviction, but more evidence than that which would arouse a mere suspicion. Mobley v. State, 270 Md. 76, 81 (Md. 1973).
- Was my client’s car searched pursuant to the guarantees provided in the Fourth Amendment?
If the search of my client’s vehicle was unconstitutional – a Motion to Suppress will be drafted and filed – a hearing will be requested – Mr. Walter will argue that any and all evidence obtained by the police should be suppressed and the case should be dismissed because the evidence was “fruit of the poisonous tree.”The “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine holds that when the Constitution has been violated in obtaining evidence, such tainted evidence shall not only not be used directly but shall not be used at all. It prohibits not only the direct use of the tainted evidence but also its derivative use. The “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine would go further and also bar such derivative uses of such evidence as the exploitation of the knowledge gained so as to develop further leads; or, of pertinence here, the use of such tainted evidence to establish probable cause for the issuance of a subsequent warrant.