Each year a few cases are decided that affect the criminal defense attorney.
It is important for a criminal attorney to keep abreast of these cases.
One such case is
People v. Bates
. People are often confused with the search condition of probation. This
essentially means that because a person has been convicted of a criminal
offense and is now on probation, they are subject to search and seizure. The
bates case held that even though a person has agreed to a search and seizure
condition, the police still need valid reasonable cause to stop the person.
In other words, just because a person has a search and seizure term, it
does not allow law enforcement to conduct illegal stops/detentions. This
is important because to allow otherwise would let police conduct random
stops in order to find people on probation. This would encourage fishing
Another important case is
People v. Burkett
. All criminal offenses consist of certain elements (e.g., dui requires driving
and being under the influence). This sounds obvious, but not all cases have
obvious elements. An example is residential burglary. Most people think
a residential burglary occurs when someone enters a house.
Burkett, however, clearly states the residence must currently be used for dwelling
purposes. In this case, a renter moved out on May 1
st and the owner intended to move back in on May 4
th. When the burglary occurred on May 2
nd, the location was not a residence because it was not currently being used
as a dwelling.
Many attorneys take for granted that when the prosecution files a case,
the facts actually prove the crime alleged. The more time spent reviewing
facts and law, the less chance a person has of being convicted. I personally
try to review the facts of every case 5 or more times. My associate and
I also try to review each other's' fact patterns as well. Two
sets of eyes are better than one.