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Circuit court overturns conviction on grounds of rights violation

Whether it’s because of this blog or other means, most people know that their Fourth Amendment right protects them from unreasonable search and seizure. This means that if something is not covered by a warrant then law enforcement cannot take it from you so as to prove past crimes. Doing so would be a violation of a person’s rights and would be grounds for an appeal in a criminal case.

Our California readers can see this exemplified by a case out of the 2nd Circuit Court where an accountant found himself facing accusations of tax evasion because of information that was found on his computer. But according to court records, the information was taken nearly 2 1/2 years before investigators suspected him of criminal activity, thus violating the man’s Fourth Amendment rights.

As many of our readers know, many investigations involving white collar crimes can go on for years before a person faces charges. That’s because investigators usually want to ensure that they have the right evidence to support their accusations. But in this particular case, as the court pointed out, this was not done according to the letter of the law.

As the court explained, the information that was taken from the accountant’s computer was not covered by the search warrant that was present in 2003. Law enforcement then sat on the data for more than two years before they developed probable cause against the accountant, which eventually led to the charge and conviction for tax evasion.

As the court pointed out, the Fourth Amendment prohibits the government from collecting information “in the hopes of discovering evidence about previously unknown crimes.” It was determined that this is what happened though in the case of the accountant. Thanks to the court’s recent decision though, the conviction for tax evasion was overturned, leaving the accountant pleased to know that justice had finally been served in his case.

Source: Courthouse News Service, “Feds' Data Retention Found 'Unreasonable',” Adam Klasfeld, June 20, 2014

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Former Criminal Prosecutor With Proven Results