The double jeopardy clause is one of the foundations of our criminal justice system. The Fifth Amendment guarantees that you can't be prosecuted twice for the same offense. If you're charged with a crime and a jury finds you not guilty, the prosecution doesn't get another shot. Without this protection, the prosecution could simply keep coming after you, and your right to a fair trial would be rendered worthless.
In a case that spans decades, a black Mississippi man was convicted four times for the 1996 murders of four furniture store employees - three white, one black. Four times, he was sentenced to death.
Privacy rights are at the heart of a free society. The Fourth Amendment provides valuable protection against unreasonable government intrusion. Police can't break down your door for no reason. They can't search your belongings without justification. They can't arrest you on a whim.
"In sum, to foreclose access to social media altogether is to prevent the user from engaging in the legitimate exercise of First Amendment rights."
The U.S. Supreme Court announced its decision this week in Maryland v. King, allowing law enforcement officers around the country to take a cheek swab after an arrest for a serious crime. Cheek cells contain a person's DNA, which can then be used to determine whether an arrested person can be tied to open, unsolved crimes through CODIS. And, that DNA information can possibly be stored forever.
The U.S. Supreme Court decided last year that the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment means that juvenile crimes cannot be punished by a life sentence with no chance of parole. For Laurence Lovette, formerly of Durham, that he will have a second chance to prove to a judge that he should not spend the rest of his life behind bars.
On the docket this November, the Supreme Court of the United States is set to consider several issues related to the Fourth Amendment, search and seizure and criminal defense.
We blogged earlier this week about the U.S. Supreme Court potentially weighing in next session on whether law enforcement can collect DNA samples from people who are arrested and accused of a crime before he or she is actually convicted. North Carolina law currently allows law enforcement to do just that - take a DNA sample once you're arrested.
Alonzo King was arrested for assault in 2009. Under Maryland's DNA Collection Act, law enforcement took a DNA sample from him without a warrant. The Act allows police to collect DNA samples from anyone arrested for (not convicted of) certain felony charges, including burglary, attempted burglary, a violent crime or an attempt at a violent crime.
Anyone under the age of 18, whether tried as a juvenile or adult, who is convicted of murder can no longer be sentenced to life without parole without consideration being given to his or her age and the nature of the crime. The Supreme Court recently held, in Miller v. Alabama, that mandatory life sentences without parole for juvenile offenders violate the 8th Amendment's prohibition against cruel and unusual punishment.