16 December 2003

The Federal Supreme Court has Approved Shakedown Arrests

In Maryland v. Pringle an officer arrests all three people in a car after finding drugs in the back seat. The owner of the car was driving and there was a man in the front passenger seat and a man in the back; none admit possession at the scene. Later, under interrogation, the front seat passenger admits that the drugs were his. The Court said there was probable cause to arrest all people in the car.

This raises an important question: exactly how many people are police allowed to arrest in order to shake them down in an attempt to get a confession? If officers stop a bus rented by members of the same organization (let's say the SSDP) and find a bag with 5 pounds of heroin can they arrest all 40 people in the bus? If someone is shot dead in a bar almost exclusively frequented by the Outlaws can officers arrest all 100 people in the club? Since the Court has put its imprimatur on rounding up the usual suspects, will it allow police to round up twice the usual suspects in really serious cases?

No comments: