In a controversial ruling by a Colorado appeals court, those charged with a crime may be allowed to search the homes of the victims. Five other states have had similar rulings, deciding that the right to a fair trial may outweigh the interests of privacy.
The case the appeals court heard was of a man who was convicted of sexual assault against his cousins. A lower court judge denied him access to the location where the assaults occurred — his grandmother’s home. The appeals court did not say that he should be allowed to search the home, but ruled that it was up to the discretion of the judge.
For some time now, courts have ordered victims to have psychological evaluations and defense attorneys have looked at evidence from a victim’s cellphone or computer. The appeals court said that there were no state laws or court rulings that have addressed searching a private home.
The appeals court also said that the defendant’s justification for the search would have to be balanced against the privacy interests of the resident.
Prosecutors and victims’ advocates feel this ruling simply allows the victim to be victimized again. A district attorney in the 18th Judicial District in Colorado said that this ruling gives defendants the right to search the victim’s home without showing probable cause. In order for law enforcement to get a search warrant, they must show probable cause.
While the arguments are sure to continue, defendants facing criminal charges currently have another tool in their arsenal of defense weapons. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide more information.
Source: Paradise Post, “Court: Colorado crime suspects can search victims’ homes” Sadie Gurman, Associated Press, Feb. 27, 2015