Friday, October 11, 2019

CAN EVIDENCE THAT AN OFFICER SAID “FELL OUT OF MY POCKET” BE USED AGAINST ME?

You were walking through a back alley when the police officer stopped you. In the police report, the officer claims that a packet of drugs or an illegal weapon simply fell out of your pocket. That simply didn’t happen, but this is still the basis for your arrest.

Can the officer get away with that?

The answer depends on how the court views the phenomena known as “dropsy” testimony.

“Dropsy” cases are those where an officer falsely testifies that a defendant dropped contraband in plain view “to avoid the exclusion of evidence on fourth-amendment grounds.” In New York, the problem became known as “testilying.” In these cases, it can be the officer’s word against the defendant’s.

When dealing with “dropsy” testimony, some courts refuse to admit it is a problem while others reject all “dropsy” testimony as a matter of law. Most courts, however, evaluate the credibility of the officer’s testimony in each case. Would the officer’s stop or search of the defendant violate the Fourth Amendment if the defendant hadn’t “dropped” the evidence in plain sight? If not, the officer’s testimony is more credible because the officer has nothing to gain by lying. If, yes, the officer’s incentive to lie to avoid suppression of the evidence is higher.

If you have been charged with a crime, contact an experienced criminal law attorney immediately. The outcome of your case can become very fact- and judge-specific. An attorney who is familiar with the courthouse may be in a better position to present the facts of your case in their most favorable light.

If you have questions about this or another related Illinois criminal or traffic matter, please contact Matt Keenan at 847-568-0160 or email matt@mattkeenanlaw.com.

Source: People v Campbell

(Besides Skokie, Matt Keenan also serves the communities of Arlington Heights, Chicago, Deerfield, Des Plaines, Evanston, Glenview, Morton Grove, Mount Prospect, Niles, Northbrook, Park Ridge, Rolling Meadows, Wilmette and Winnetka.)

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