Proposed law could lead to warrant-less searches of probationers

Critics say new law may violate constitutional rights of parolees

Lawmakers and law enforcement officials are working on legislation that would allow police officers in Arizona to search the homes and vehicles of people on parole or probation without a warrant, according to a CBS Las Vegas. Advocates of the law say it is necessary for reducing crime, but detractors say the law is without purpose and would only end up violating the constitutional rights of parolees.

Warrant-less searches

The proposed law would allow police to search a parolee’s property if they suspected a crime was being committed on the property. Police would not be required to obtain a warrant before conducting the search. Under current law, only parole officers are allowed to conduct warrant-less searches of convicts on parole or probation.

Advocates of the reform failed to pass a similar law during the last legislative session. However, they say they are willing to work with opponents this time around in order to find a compromise. Those advocates say that the legislation will help law enforcement officials keep crime down, especially in rural areas where fewer parole officers are responsible for covering much vaster territories compared with officers working in urban areas.

Constitutionality challenged

Opponents of the law, however, say that it presents a number of problems. Some have claimed that the current system is not broken, meaning the proposed bill is unnecessary. There is also little evidence that allowing police to conduct warrant-less searches would actually reduce crime, according to The Republic.

Perhaps a far more serious issue is whether the law would actually be constitutional in the first place. As one detractor pointed out, there is concern that probationers and parolees would automatically be considered suspected of committing a crime because of their past convictions, rather than because there was any valid suspicion that they were actually engaging in criminal activity. As a result, the law could set the stage for law enforcement officers to abuse their powers.

Criminal defense issues

As the above story shows, people who are charged and convicted with a crime are often treated very differently by society and authorities than those who have never run afoul of the law. While it is understandable that law enforcement officials want to keep Arizona safe, it is also important to make sure that everybody’s constitutional rights are protected.

Anybody who has been charged with a criminal offense will need the assistance of a highly qualified criminal defense attorney. In order to make sure that an accused person’s rights are protected, experienced legal advice is an invaluable tool throughout the legal process.

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