Was a 2014 Police Pursuit a Violation of Constitutional Rights?

Published: November 9, 2018 в 11:09 pm


The Constitution of the United States | What constitutes a Violation of Constitutional RightsIn 2014,  a University of Colorado student was shot in a standoff on University Hill with Boulder police. Coleman Steward was accused of wielding a BB gun during an incident that resulted in police opening fire on the young man. In 2015, he was convicted of four counts of felony menacing and obstructing a police officer. The Colorado Court of Appeals reversed this conviction, citing multiple judicial errors in the initial trial. He was scheduled for a retrial in January, but now, he is asking that the charges against him be dismissed. His reason? He believes that the officers’ pursuit was a violation of constitutional rights meant to protect against arbitrary arrests.

According to Boulder Police, Stewart got into an altercation with a taxi driver and the driver called police officers when Stewart attempted to flee without paying him. Officers later testified that Stewart pointed a gun out a window at them before they fired shots at him. Stewart’s criminal defense team argued differently. They said that a crime scene consultant concluded that there was no way the officers could’ve seen a gun out of the window when they fired. In addition, the officers should not have been physically present on the porch without a warrant. For now, Stewart remains out of custody and on probation.

Further Reading: Sexual Assault and Harassment Charges on the Rise in the #MeToo Era

Understanding Warrants

  • Arrest Warrants – An arrest warrant allows law enforcement officials the right to arrest a person of interest in a crime and is granted by a judge. In order to obtain an arrest warrant, there must be probable cause for arresting the suspect. Arrest warrants are required when the crime is committed out of view of a police officer. If a felony is committed in view of a police officer, then the officer does not need a warrant to make an arrest.
  • Bench Warrants – A bench warrant is different and is issued by a judge when someone fails to appear at a required court hearing. This allows officials the ability to arrest the suspect any place where they are sighted.

The police can arrest you without a warrant, however, if they:

  • Believe that the public is in danger
  • See you committing a crime
  • Believe an arrest is the best way to preserve evidence
  • Have reasonable grounds to believe that you have committed an offence
  • Have reasonable grounds to believe that there is an outstanding warrant against you

For minor crimes, police are only allowed to arrest you if they see you committing the offense. If it is a serious crime, the police only need to have reasonable grounds to arrest. However, it is important to understand that reasonable grounds isn’t as simple as having a suspicion that someone is going to commit a crime. The arresting officer must believe that you committed the offence and that a judge or jury would also believe that there were reasonable grounds to arrest you.

Contact Our Boulder Criminal Defense Lawyers

Boulder juvenile crime attorney Steven LouthIf you’ve been arrested and charged with a crime, it is important to understand your rights. If you believe that your rights have been violated, it is important to speak to an experienced and skilled Boulder criminal defense lawyer immediately. Contact the Boulder criminal defense lawyers at Steven Louth Law Offices today for a free consultation and review of your case. Call us at (303) 422-2297 to start building a solid defense against these serious criminal charges.

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