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A Look Back & Forward on Our 4th Anniversary

Aug. 1st 2016
Denver Defense Lawyer Laurie Schmidt reflects on the past & future on her Firm’s 4th Anniversary.

Denver Defense Lawyer Laurie Schmidt reflects on her Firm’s 4th Anniversary.

As of April 2016, the Law Office of Laurie A. Schmidt is officially 4 years old! It’s been a tremendous time for us, and we are honored and privileged to have been able to help so many people though their family law or criminal defense issues.

Looking back over the past four years, I can see myself starting this venture after leaving the District Attorney’s Office. I was resolute that I would change the way attorneys practice law; this firm was not going to be a stuffy old-school firm. I wanted to build the practice to focus on the client and result and not have to answer to “the man.”

What I found is that I have gotten a lot of personal satisfaction out of seeing my clients through some very difficult times in their lives. When I decided to become a duel division firm, focusing only on two areas of law, family and criminal, I did so because of the natural intersection between these two areas of law.  For example, both criminal defense and family law utilize the same evidence code when presenting information to the court. Both involve issues that are not black and white but fall within the gray.

I look forward to continuing to help people realize the best possible outcomes from their criminal and family legal issues. And I also look forward to sharing more legal news, information and insights via this monthly email in 2016 and beyond.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in Uncategorized | Comments Off on A Look Back & Forward on Our 4th Anniversary

Is It an Illegal Search for Police to Listen to Calls and Read Emails?

Jul. 11th 2014

Is It an Illegal Search for Police to Listen to Calls and Read Emails?

 A core principle in our laws is that all searches, including those of cell phones, emails, and phone conversations are unreasonable, unless the search or invasion is conducted by a valid warrant. This was upheld in a recent U.S. Supreme Court Decision n Riley v. California.  If police listen to your phone call or read your emails without a valid warrant it is an illegal search. It could also be an illegal search if the information used to support probable cause for the warrant was obtained from an illegal source. Meaning, if the information contained in the warrant is based on an illegal search or illegal eavesdropping, the warrant fails and thus the search and anything found after the search is inadmissible or the government cannot use it against you.

Even in light of the new ruling, there is evidence that law enforcement agencies are disregarding the warrant requirement and conducting illegal searches.  Advances in technologies allow the government to search, listen, and record conversations without leaving much of a footprint this is not to say that the conduct if valid.  It just  means it is extremely difficult to discovery an illegal search. Many police officers justify this illegal search and violation of the Fourth Amendment as getting the “bad guy.”   The problem is this leads to sloppy and lazy police investigation that puts the entire case at issue for dismissal.

Police agencies and prosecutors have obtained legal warrants that resulted in convictions for years without issue.  Thus, the warrant requirement does not prohibit police investigations, arrests, or convictions. It is our protections against unreasonable contact and illegal search by the government. It also protects our First Amendments rights to privacy.

Warrants Requirements

An officer must develop probable cause to believe that continual criminal activity is on going. Based on a sound and legal investigation the officer then presents this evidence to a judge. If a judge believes that probable causes exists to issue a warrant, then the officer may listen in to phone calls, read email, search a cell phone, or computer.

If obtained, a warrant must be specific, limited in scope, name the items to be searched, and based on probable cause otherwise it could result in an illegal search.

What are Your Rights?

You have a Fourth Amendment Right to be free from unreasonable governmental conduct. You have a right to privacy in your things, belongings, and home.   This does not mean all conduct is prohibited but only that which is unreasonable.   The justification for a surveillance policy for the National Security Administration is not extended to all law enforcement agencies. Meaning local cops do not have the right to listen in to phone conversations, read your emails, and/or other surveillance methods. This does not mean to say that it is not happening, what it means is that if it does your rights were violated.

This post seeks to give information on warrants and governmental searches and seizures.   For more information or to discuss your specific case, please contact us directly at (303) 747-4686 or click CONTACT US.

 

 

 

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in Assault, Uncategorized, warrant | Comments Off on Is It an Illegal Search for Police to Listen to Calls and Read Emails?

No Cell Phone Search Without Warrant Says U.S. Supreme Court

Jun. 25th 2014

COURT FINDS WARRANTLESS SEARCH OF YOUR CELL PHONE VIOLATES FOURTH AMENDMENT 

The Fourth Amendment protects you against unreasonable governmental contact.  Today, the U.S. Supreme Court, in a key decision, held that you have a right to privacy and to be free from unreasonable search and seizure of your cell phone, including smart phone.  In a unanimous decision the Court held that a cop must have a warrant before they can search your cellphone.  Many believe that this ruling would also include tablets and I-pads.

What this means is that the cops cannot just take your cell phone and start looking at who you called, texted, or emailed. The cop is required to have a judge issue a warrant that is based on probable cause before any such search is conducted.

What about non-cops, such as friends and family? Sorry, the Fourth Amendment protects only against unreasonable governmental contact not your friends and family. Governmental contacts are law enforcement, the prosecution, border patrol and good rule of thumb would be anyone who works for the government on any level, town, city, state, feds.

DOES THIS MEAN THE COURTS CAN NEVER SEARCH MY CELL PHONE?

Not necessarily.  Many times officers will simply ask you for permission to look at your phone contacts, histories, or text messages.  If you allow them to or give them permission to see your phone, it will take any search outside protections of the Fourth Amendment because the courts will consider it to be consensual. Meaning you agreed to waive the warrant requirement and allow the cop to search your phone.  The cops are not required to read you Miranda before they ask if they can see your phone or tell you that you have a constitutionally protected right to say no.

A good rule of thumb is:  if the cop is using words of permission, no matter the inflection or tone, you have a right to say no.  An example could be:  May I see the phone or how about you let me look, or let’s just clear this up now, or you can just let me see it; otherwise, I’ll go and get a warrant and keep you here longer.  The purpose of the warrant is to disallow the officer from conducting a fishing expedition, if they will seek a warrant or even get a judge to sign it, are unknowns that you don’ t know at the time.

For the full Supreme Court opinion click Riley v. California

We hope that this post on the Fourth Amendment has been informative.  If you believe that your Fourth Amendment Rights have been violated, contact us today for a free case evaluation at (303) 747-4686 or complete a request for information.

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in Fourth Amendment, Uncategorized | Comments Off on No Cell Phone Search Without Warrant Says U.S. Supreme Court

Colorado Bail Bonds – what happens after you are arrested

May. 9th 2013

Colorado Bail Bonds

You have just been arrested – you call your friend or family member, but what happens?  What do you need to do?  What should you tell them?  Your first thought is probably, how can I get out of jail?  This post is to provide some information about arrests and release from custody  and Colorado bail bonds.

Can I get released from Jail After an Arrest with a Colorado Bail Bond?

Before you can be released, you must go through a booking process.  This includes being fingerprinted, being photographed (aka mug shot), providing identifying information (height, weight, tattoos, ect), and possibly, a swab of your DNA.  This can take several hours.  The jail will work on its own timeline and there is nothing that an attorney and/or your loved one can do to speed up the process.

Once the booking process is complete, then bail is set.  Bail is a sum of money that is exchanged for the release of an arrested person.   Bail can be set secured or unsecured.  There are several factors to determine what type of bail is set, mainly the type and severity of the crime.

A judge can set bail or it can be requested in the complaint or the charging documents.  If you are arrested and no bail is set, you will be brought before the judge at the next court date.  There are some crimes in which no bail will be set, for example capital crimes.  Once bail is set, the court can allow it to be posted as a secured or unsecured bond.  If the amount requested is excessive or you are unable to pay the bail, you can ask the judge to lower the bail amount or release you on an unsecured bond.

 Unsecured Bond

An unsecured bond allows you to be released without having to pay any money or other security interest.  You are released on your promise to appear at court and any conditions set by the court.  This is referred to as a personal recognizance Bond (PR bond).  Pay close attention to all of your paperwork given to you.  There are important dates and conditions to your release.  If you miss a court date or violate a condition of the PR bond, you could be put back in jail, be required to post a secured bond (see below), or it could result in additional charges against you. In Colorado, this is a common type of release for misdemeanor offenses.

Secured Bond

A secured bond is one in which money or other property must be posted.  It can be posted as a cash bond directly to the court or through a surety, such as a bondsman.  Pay close attention to all terms and conditions of your bond release.  If you miss a court date, even accidentally, or violate a condition of the bond, the bond could be forfeited and you would be placed back into custody.    A violation of bond terms could result in enhanced charges.

Do I Need an attorney to get out of jail or to get a Colorado Bail Bond?

For the booking and bonding out process, you may not need an attorney to be present.  If you were going before a court for a bond hearing, than you would want an attorney.  You have a right to have an attorney represent you at all critical stages of a criminal case, including the bond hearing.  You will be up against a trained attorney who will argue to the judge to set bail and/or keep you in custody.

Special considerations for Domestic Violence Charges and Colorado Bail Bonds

If you or a loved one are accused of a domestic violence charge- you will want an attorney to represent you.  You will be taken before the court and in addition to setting bail; the court is required to issue a mandatory protective order.  Your domestic violence attorney will be there to ensure that any mandatory protective orders are consistent with your life and/or family situation.  If it is not, then you may violate the order, which can result in additional charges and/or revocation of the bond.

I’ve been Released on a bail bond- now what?  Retain a Colorado Criminal Defense Attorney

No matter what you are charged with, this is not the time to “do-it-yourself.”  The government has trained witnesses, forensic teams, and lawyers on their side.  You need professional representation. Retain a criminal defense attorney in your area.  You do not have to go with the first attorney that you contact.  When you are interviewing potential attorneys, you want to find one that you are comfortable with, that is competent to take your case, and have significant experience in your jurisdiction.

Thank you for visiting our post on what to do after an arrest.  For more information, contact us directly at (303) 747-4686 or click here.

 

 

 

 

Posted by Laurie Schmidt | in arrest, Uncategorized | Comments Off on Colorado Bail Bonds – what happens after you are arrested