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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Lawmakers Tout Success of Operation Ceasefire

Lawmakers Tout Success of Operation Ceasefire


Attorney General Jason Miyares says the Commonwealth’s lower crime rate is due, in large part, to heightened enforcement efforts like Operation Ceasefire.

“Roughly 3 to 5 percent of felons are committing over 50 percent of the violent crime. So, if you want to bring down crime, you have to go to those violent, repeat offenders and get them out of our neighborhoods and off our streets,” said Miyares.

Funding from Operation Ceasefire is helping cities get new technology to fight crime, like a real-time crime center, which gives officers in the field information about patterns instantaneously in an effort to prevent future crimes as well as updating existing tools to examine bullet fragments.

“We really saw that that helped us early on in a violent incident with that ballistic imaging to match those shell cases to different shootings and different shooters,” said Roanoke Police Chief Scott Booth.

Prosecuting violent crime is also being made easier with help from victims and bystanders sharing information with police and their willingness to testify.

Criminal Investigation Tactics

Heightened enforcement campaigns, like Operation Ceasefire, are a red flag for a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer. Police officers often take shortcuts in these situations. State and federal grants usually fund these programs. Everyone likes to see a return on an investment. So, when bureaucrats issue a grant, they expect to see results, in the form of more arrests.

To deliver these expected results, officers often violate the Fourth and/or Fifth Amendment during these investigations.

The Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures. Under the Constitution, searches and seizures are reasonable if, and only if, officers had a valid warrant or a search warrant exception applied.

Valid warrants must be based on probable cause. The uncorroborated testimony of a nosy neighbor (e.g. I saw illegal activity at this location) is not probable cause. Likewise, the uncorroborated testimony of a paid informer is not probable cause. Many nosy neighbors will say almost anything to get someone in trouble. Many paid informants will say almost anything for love or money (leniency in another matter or a chas payment)

Fifth Amendment violations might be more common, mostly because Fifth Amendment rights, such as the right to remain silent, protect people so early in the process and are so broad.

Fifth Amendment protections apply as soon as custodial interrogation begins. People are in custody when they don’t reasonably feel free to leave. Most people don’t feel free to leave at the moment they see flashing squad car lights in their rear view mirrors. Interrogation quite simply means asking questions, whether or not these questions are related to a specific offense.

Silence, a right guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment, also includes physical silence. Unless they choose to do so, people need not pose for pictures, appear in lineups, or do anything else, other than obey basic “step out of the car” commands.

Witnesses in Criminal Cases

Eyewitness testimony might be the most compelling, and most unreliable, kind of evidence in a criminal case.

Something almost mystical occurs when disinterested witnesses come to the front of a courtroom, swear to tell the truth, and tell jurors what they saw. This testimony is often bulletproof. If a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer cross-examines these witnesses too aggressively, the jury sympathizes with the witness, at least in most cases.

A witness’ recall is far from perfect. Most people forget about 90 percent of what they hear and see within forty-eight hours. That’s one reason the first forty-eight hours are so critical to police officers. Furthermore, our eyes are not cameras. We see things, and remember things, selectively.

Witness follow-up encounters are usually even more unreliable. Single-blind lineups (the officer, but not the witness, knows the suspect’s identity) are a good example. Generally, officers give witnesses clues, either consciously or subconsciously.

Connect With a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. We routinely handle matters throughout Northern Virginia.



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