So far, charges in 57 criminal cases have been dropped due to their connection to a group of plainclothes police officers who acted outside of the law in executing searches. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the police scandal involves eight officers, all of which have been moved to administrative duties.
The officers made up an undercover unit that worked the South of Market and Treasure Island areas. Their wayward actions were seen on hotel surveillance videos where they were caught entering several residential hotel rooms with keys, no warrant, and no announcement of who they were.
So far the police department, the city attorney’s office, and the FBI have all opened separate investigations into the actions of this unit. And because their actions tainted any evidence collected from these illegal searches, the suspects in those cases are being cut loose in many cases.
District Attorney and former police chief George Gascon is said to have complete confidence in the integrity of the department though he states his office is reviewing police reports to find any cases that may be related to the now disbanded unit.
Initial word of the unit’s illegal searches and questionable practices came up when a local public defender released the surveillance videos at a press conference. Though he’s been criticized for it and the D.A. demands he should’ve been notified first, the defender claims prosecutors were aware of the videos and failed to act quickly.
Gascon states he intends on pushing the department to require “refresher” courses on searches and seizures for about 100 other undercover agents beginning in coming weeks. Because the evidence seized in such searches is often the cornerstone of the prosecutor’s case, it must be executed with respect to a citizen’s constitutional rights if it is to hold up in court.
This is precisely why an experienced defense attorney spends so much of a case reviewing the evidence and the procedures in which it was collected. If the police violate your rights in the execution of a search, the evidence could be ruled inadmissible and the prosecution’s case could fall apart.
It’s important that a criminal defense attorney treat each case with the individual attention it deserves, as no two cases are alike. If you are facing criminal charges, contact our local attorneys today for a free consultation.