Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Virginia Beach Man Faces Multiple Felony Charges Including Burglary

Under Virginia law, the crime of burglary includes several different types of conduct. Generally, burglary crimes, and the penalties and consequences that come with a burglary conviction, depend on what the offender intended to do once he or she had broken into the person’s home or property. For example, the fact that the offender intended to commit rape once he or she broke into the home will be charged differently than if he or she broke in to steal money or other belongings. As three separate Virginia Beach cases demonstrate, different criminal burglary laws will apply in each unique set of circumstances.

Wavy.com reports that the Virginia Beach Police arrested several suspects in one morning in connection with three separate--and so far unrelated--burglaries. All of the burglaries occurred on the morning on September 25 of this year.

The first burglary allegedly involved several young men; a 17-year-old, a 16-year-old, and two 18-year-olds, Austin Blake McCoy and Stephen Louis Kronenburg. The young men allegedly broke into and entered a home on Sunninghill Court at around 8:45 in the morning. Police received a call from the homeowner, who said that he or she had found three of the young men downstairs, and they fled the scene. Police were able to catch the young men at a traffic stop. The young men were charged with several crimes, including breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit a felony.

Police were able to catch their second group of suspects about an hour later near Captain’s Run Drive. They were responding to a call regarding two males who had jumped a fence into a homeowner’s yard. Officers were able to spot 22-year-old Jquan Haskins and 22-year-old Tramone Antonio Johnson near the scene jumping another fence and arrested them. Mr. Haskins was charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony and conspiracy to commit a felony, while Mr. Johnson was charged with conspiracy to commit a felony and other crimes.

The final arrest occurred at around 11:30am after another call came in regarding a man jumping a fence at Glenridge Court. Officers and a K-9 unit were able to apprehend the suspect as he ran in another yard. The suspect, 24-year-old Justin Andrew Brown, was ultimately charged with breaking and entering with intent to commit a felony and several other charges.

Virginia Criminal Law

Under Virginia criminal code 18.2-91, a person is guilty of statutory burglary if he or she breaks into and enters another person’s property with the intent to commit a felony other than murder, rape, robbery, or arson. Under 18.2-90, it is Class 2 felony if the person was armed with a deadly weapon. If a person breaks and enters into another person’s property or home with the intent to commit murder, rape, robbery, or arson, he or she is guilty of a Class 3 felony criminal statutory burglary, or a Class 2 felony if he or she was armed with a deadly weapon.

Virginia burglary laws are complex and skills and experience are required to fully understand the penalties and consequences a burglary suspect may face. If you have been charged with violating Virginia criminal laws you should immediately seek out an experienced attorney. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Federal Court Says Warrant Required For GPS Tracking Devices in Criminal Cases

Whether a client has been accused of rape, burglary, or robbery, in reviewing any criminal charge ,criminal defense attorneys must analyze much more than simply the acts that led to the alleged crime. Aside from whether the defendant committed the acts that he or she is charged with, defense attorneys must examine whether his or her constitutional rights were violated when put under arrest. A defendant’s rights with regard to being stopped, searched, and arrested are an important aspect of any criminal case. If a person’s rights were violated, in some the charges may be dismissed.

Recent SCOTUS Search Case

The Supreme Court of the United States made a particularly important ruling earlier this year regarding criminal searches. In the United States v. Jones, a lower court convicted nightclub owner Antoine Jones of conspiracy to distribute cocaine for his suspected role in cocaine trafficking. In order to secure the conviction by gathering evidence, police had attached a GPS tracking device to Mr. Jones’ car when it was parked in a public parking lot. After following the car for four weeks, police had enough evidence regarding Mr. Jones’ travel for the prosecutor to obtain a guilty verdict.

On appeal, the United States Supreme Court reversed Mr. Jones’ conviction. The Court held that the government installing a GPS device to track a suspect constituted a search under the Fourth Amendment. The Court further held that in Mr. Jones’ case, the government had violated his rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. In so holding, the Court rejected the Justice Department’s arguments that GPS tracking devices should not be given Fourth Amendment protections because people do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy when they travel on public streets.

New Case

This month, a federal appeals court in Philadelphia expanded the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in holding that the government must first obtain a warrant before attaching a GPS unit to a suspect’s vehicle. The Washington Post reports that in U.S. v. Katzin, authorities suspected three brothers of burglarizing pharmacies in New Jersey, Maryland, and Pennsylvania. In order to gather evidence on the brothers, police attached a magnetic GPS unit to one of their cars. The police had consulted with the U.S. attorney’s office before using the GPS strategy, but they had failed to obtain a warrant to do so. The GPS unit led the police to a Rite Aid that had been burglarized, and they were able to stop the three brothers soon after. A search uncovered items that had been stolen from the recently burglarized Rite Aid.

The federal court agreed with the brothers that the evidence obtained by using the GPS unit was not admissible in court because the police did not obtain a warrant to attach it to car. The ruling is the first from a federal appellate court after U.S. v. Jones to hold that GPS tracking devices are searches that require a warrant.

A defendant’s constitutional rights are extremely important, and cannot be discounted in any criminal case. Constitutional law and criminal procedure is very complex, and often requires skill and experience to understand. If you have been charged with violating criminal laws in Virginia, you should immediately speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney. A criminal defense attorney can help you understand what your rights are and may be able to defend your case. Call an attorney at Garrett Law Group, PLC, today for a confidential consultation.