Criminal Justice: American Landmark Cases Analysis

In Miranda v. Arizona, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the evidence collected by officers during a custodial interrogation is permissible in the court and is considered a valid proof of guilt only if the accused person was given the Miranda warnings and if there was no waiver (1966). Based on this, the first legal issue identified in the case is the non-provision of the Miranda warnings by Officer Nelson who found the evidence (a knife and a bag of marijuana) in a pat-down search of a suspect, Anthony Raymond. The Officers gave the Miranda warning to the suspect only in the police department where they took him when the search was completed. Since Raymond’s defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress or exclude the evidence, the data obtained by Officers Nelson and Guthrie, as well as the statements the accused made in “lack of counsel or lack of warnings concerning counsel and silence,” may not be valid in the court (Miranda v. Arizona, 1966, par. IV).

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At the same time, according to the decision held by the court in Terry v. Ohio, a stop and a frisk of a suspect is valid when it is based on some reasonable suspicions (1968). It means that if the Officers can prove that their actions were sufficiently justified, the obtained evidence will be admissible. However, it is possible to say that, in the case, the Officer searched without substantial grounds as he did not know exactly how the offender looks and his suspicion fell on a person who simply walked nearby the located car which they could trace through a surveillance video. Moreover, there is some clear distinction between a “search” and a “frisk.” While a frisk is a quick inspection of a suspect’s clothes and belongings, a search implies a more detailed procedure which may be performed when a “citizen stands helpless, perhaps facing a wall with his hands raised” (Terry v. Ohio, 1968, par. II). In this way, Officer Nelson should not have conducted the pat-down search because this measure is unconstitutional. At the same time, as stated in Terry v. Ohio, the key issue under the Fourth Amendment is “the reasonableness in all the circumstances of the particular governmental invasion of a citizen’s security” (1968, par. II). Thus, to evaluate the reasonableness of Officer Nelson’s actions, it is important to understand whether he knew that the located car was Raymond’s or not. If he did not know it, then he violated the individual’s rights for personal security. On the other hand, if the Officer had found out that the vehicle belonged to Raymond before searching, then his actions may be considered reasonable because the car served as a serious piece of evidence in the case.

Another legal issue in the case is related to a warrantless search. While Officer Nelson was searching Raymond, Officer Guthrie conducted the unwarranted search of his car and found belongings of the victim, Penny Parker, – a checkbook and the receipts from the stores where Penny’s credit card was used after it was stolen. But it was held in Chimel v. California that even if because the arrest is valid, a warrantless search of property “cannot be constitutionally justified as incident to that arrest” (1969, p. 395). To understand if the Officers’ actions were reasonable, we need to analyze the lawfulness of Raymond’s detainment first. The arrest can be considered lawful in case an arrest warrant is present or if arresting officers have sufficient information “to constitute probable cause for the arrest” (Chimel v. California, 1969, p. 395). As it was stated above, the detainment may be regarded as reasonable if Officer Nelson was sure that the Chevrolet truck belonged to the suspect. Presuming that it was so, the Officers had a right to search the area within Raymond’s immediate control, i.e., his vehicle. “An arresting officer may search the arrestee’s person to discover and remove weapons and to seize evidence to prevent its concealment or destruction” (Chimel v. California, 1969, p. 395). Since Officer Nelson found the knife in Raymond’s pocket, there might be a possibility that the suspect could have some other weapons in the car as well.

In Carroll v. the United States, the court also held that the warrantless search of a vehicle is considered well-grounded if an appropriate cause is present – “When a man is legally arrested for an offense, whatever is found upon his person or in his control which it is unlawful for him to have and which may be used to prove the offense may be seized and held as evidence in the prosecution” (1925, p. 267). Although Officers could not know for sure if the suspect was guilty of a crime before the pat-down search, they had sufficient information to suppose he was somehow related to it since he was connected to the identified car. Moreover, after the actual detainment, Officers conducted a complete warranted search of the vehicle. They found other things that belonged to Penny: purse, family photos, driver’s license, etc. Additionally, they detected the items which were purchased by using the victim’s credit card. Since these things were found during the warranted search, they can be employed in court to prove Raymond’s guilt.

The fourth legal issue identified in the case is related to the presence of counsel during custodial interrogation. According to the rule of the law in Edwards v. Arizona, a detained person, “having expressed his desire to deal with the police only through counsel, is not subject to further interrogation until counsel has been made available to him unless the accused has himself initiated further communication, exchanges, or conversations with the police ” (1981, p. 451). In the analyzed case, Anthony Raymond asked for a lawyer as soon as he was taken to the police officer. Officers ceased interrogating and went to conduct the vehicle search. They started questioning the suspect once again when they already had the evidence obtained from his car. This time, Raymond did not have his counsel present. Moreover, the Officers did not provide the suspect with a Miranda warning. In this way, it can be considered that by continuing interrogation, the Officers violated the waiver constitutional rights. However, in the similar legal situation described in Edwards v. Arizona, the court stated that Edward’s incriminating admissions were voluntary (1981, p. 451). It is possible to say that Raymond’s statements about Boo and his role in the crime commitment are voluntary as well because it is supposed that “waivers of counsel must not only be voluntary but must also constitute a knowing and intelligent relinquishment or abandonment of a known right or privilege, a matter which depends in each case” (Edwards v. Arizona, 1981, p. 451). Therefore, by continuing speaking to the Officers when confronted with the evidence, Raymond voluntarily abandoned his right to remain silent and, therefore, the information provided by him can be used in the trial.

Finally, Raymond’s defense lawyer filed a motion to suppress and exclude all evidence and every statement of the suspect. In Mapp v. Ohio, the court held that all evidence obtained through the unlawful search is inadmissible in the court (1961). Before 1961, the exclusionary rule was practiced only in the federal courts, but in the case of Mapp, it was applied to the states for the first time. The implementation of the exclusionary rule in Raymond’s case may result in the suppression of the evidence obtained through the pat-down search (the knife and the bag of marijuana). Like in the Mapp case, the Officers found evidence that was not related to the case but which violated the law. But since the substance was found during the illegal search, Raymond cannot be accused of Possession of a Controlled Substance. It is also will be possible to exclude the statements Raymond made before the arrest. However, the evidence obtained during the search of the immediate area of the suspect’s control (his vehicle) will likely not be suppressed as the Officer’s action in this situation is reasonable and, according to the rule in Chimel v. California, is considered lawful. Additionally, since the comments Raymond made when confronted with the evidence can be regarded as voluntary, they will likely not be excluded as well and can be used in the criminal trial.

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Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132 (1925). Web.

Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969). Web.

Edwards v. Arizona, 451 U.S. 477 (1981). Web.

Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961). Web.

Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966). Web.

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Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968). Web.

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