SB1070: Know Your Rights

The recent United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on Arizona’s controversial immigration law known as SB1070. In a 5 to 3 decision the Supreme Court justices upheld one critical element of the bill while striking down several other parts. The High Court found that it was not a violation of any federal or civil rights law for the State to require police officers to make a reasonable attempt to determine a person’s immigration status if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that person is in the country illegally.

In the Court’s majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy discusses the Court’s reasoning for upholding the provision and then cautions Arizona and other States looking to enact similar laws. Justice Kennedy writes that while the provision is constitutional, it does leave the State open to potential consequences and challenges in other areas.

It’s likely that part of the issue Justice Kennedy alludes to is the lack of instruction the law provides police agencies and the incredible burden placed on officers to determine what should and should not be considered reasonable suspicion or reasonable action. Opponents of the bill argue that it creates a system of racial profiling and while most upstanding members of the law enforcement community are simply doing their job to the best of their abilities there is always the potential for those looking to take advantage of the laws to step beyond their authority.

In Maricopa County alone there have been numerous complaints and lawsuits about detainees receiving different levels of treatment and questioning during processing. Many of the claims involve minorities who were questioned for several hours and forced to wait extremely long periods of time in holding cells without basic necessities such as water and a bathroom while officers attempted to verify their citizenship status. Many times these citizens were purposely carrying multiple forms of legal ID including a driver’s license, passport, and social security card and were still detained at length. In the Supreme Court’s ruling Justice Kennedy specifically addresses this issue as a “constitutional problem.”

The bottom line is no person should be subjected to additional or cruel or unusual punishments because of the color of their skin. It doesn’t matter if you have been detained or arrested for DUI or a felony charge; you deserve equal treatment in the eyes of the law. This includes the right to consult with a criminal defense attorney.

If you’ve been arrested or detained for a crime the first thing you should do is ask to speak with your attorney. Only a criminal defense attorney will have the knowledge of the system, the precedents and the steps necessary to make sure your rights aren’t violated. An attorney will make sure you don’t receive unfair treatment and that you get a fair opportunity to face your accusers in court.

Todd E. Nolan of The Nolan Law Firm are experienced attorneys who will help you mount a successful defense in your criminal case. Without effective representation by an experience criminal defense attorney, you’re at the mercy of the courts. If you’ve been accused of a crime there you have nothing to gain by waiting. Contact the Nolan Law Firm immediately and ensure your rights aren’t violated.

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