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Sure outcomes rarely exist in criminal defense – Virginia Supreme Court

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Sure outcomes rarely exist in criminal defense - Virginia Supreme Court

Sure outcomes rarely exist in criminal defense – Virginia Supreme Court

Sure outcomes are rare in criminal defense, says Fairfax criminal lawyer

Sure outcomes should never be relied upon in criminal defense. We need look no further than the many split decisions of the United States Supreme Court to know that, being human, judges and jurors are unpredictable and can make a right decision at one moment and a horrendously misguided decision at the next. I know as a Fairfax criminal lawyer never to go to battle with just one proverbial bullet and one proverbial target, but with a  full battle plan that I am ready to execute.

Sure outcomes can be an illusion, as we see from the Virginia Supreme Court

Last year, the United States Supreme Court reversed the Virginia Supreme Court’s crabbed reading of the Exclusionary Rule that provides remedies for police search violations of the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution. SCOTUS, 8-1, stated: “This case presents the question whether the automobile exception to the Fourth Amendment permits a police officer, uninvited and without a warrant, to enter the curtilage of a home in order to search a vehicle parked therein. It does not.” Collins v. Virginia, 138 S. Ct. 1663 (2018). This victory did not deliver Collins a sure victory.

As is common, instead of giving Collins a full and final victor, the Supreme Court remanded his case back to the Virginia Supreme Court “for further proceedings not inconsistent with this opinion.” Sure outcomes being an illusion, the Virginia Supreme Court this past week reached the same result (affirming Collins’s conviction), proclaiming: “The exclusionary rule does not apply under the facts of this case because, at the time of the search, a reasonably well-trained police officer would not have known that the automobile exception did not permit him to search a motorcycle located a few feet across the curtilage boundary of a private driveway.” Ryan Austin Collins v. Commonwealth of Virginia  ___ Va. ___ (March 27, 2019).

A criminal defense lawyer must fight to the finish

Prosecutors tend to have the odds in their favor in the majority of criminal cases. Sure outcomes being rare, criminal defense lawyers have no choice but to fully fight to the finish, with complete attention to persuasion; engagement of the jury, judge and opponent; full investigation and development of the evidence and the governing law to the defense’s best advantage; pursing the nuances of the case; and applying the lawyer’s skill, experience, and instincts in the best way.

Although Ryan Collins lost in the Virginia Supreme Court, police in the Commonwealth now are on full notice that the automobile exception does not permit them to run roughshod over the Fourth Amendment rights of people as to vehicles on their home curtilage.

Fairfax criminal lawyer Jonathan L. Katz pursues your best defense against prosecutions of felony, misdemeanor, DUI, and drug cases. Nearly 100% of his practice is criminal defense. To schedule a confidential consultation with Jon Katz, please call his staff at 703-383-1100. 

1 Comment

  1. john iorio on April 1, 2019 at 6:56 am

    An uphill battle for the defense in any event. Yes, the state court had the final say in interpreting the 4rth, but Collin’s was not assured any promises by either court. How to define the word “unreasonable” seems a vast grey area, given the situation with the suzuki in the driveway. To me, it does seem reasonable, given collin’s record. Are commonwealth cops really on notice?? Maybe so, if this case makes enough of a stir. In any event, this one sounds like an excellent precedent for future suppression defenses.