Today, in a landmark decision, the Supreme Court of the United States has ruled unanimously that search and seizure of the contents of a cell phone during an arrest is an unreasonable search and seizure and is, therefore, unlawful. Riley v. California, 573 U.S. ___ (2014). This ruling resolves a longstanding circuit split over the cell phone search-incident-to-arrest doctrine, and mirrors the Florida Supreme Court's holding in Smallwood v. State, 113 So. 3d 724 (Fla. 2013), which we previously blogged about here.
Most people are aware they have a Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination when they are being questioned by law enforcement. What many people do not know, however, is that in some circumstances, the privilege must be expressly involved and, if it is not invoked, the failure to answer specific police questions can be used against them later. In those instances, silence is not golden and can be introduced as evidence of guilt at trial.
In United States v. Padilla, 559 U.S. 356 (2010), the United States Supreme Court held that the Sixth Amendment requires attorneys to inform their non-citizen clients of the immigration consequences of entering a guilty plea in criminal cases. In many situations, entering such a plea, even in a misdemeanor case, can result in deportation. An order of deportation can occur many years after the guilty plea, much to the surprise of the client. Padilla recognized that a lawyer who fails to advise their client of the potential for deportation is not competent, so that a plea entered without such advice is not a voluntary plea and therefore, can be vacated. A question left open by the Padilla decision was whether it was retroactive, meaning a person whose plea was entered before Padilla became final could also vacate their plea if not properly advised.
William J. "Bill" Sheppard is a criminal trial attorney based in Jacksonville, Florida. For the past forty-four years, he has built a reputation as an eminent civil rights, criminal defense and appellate attorney. He is well known for handling cases involving police misconduct, police shootings and the First Amendment to our nation's Constitution in state and federal court. He has also taken on a number of race, age and gender discrimination cases. Bill's interest in vindicating his clients' rights has led him to argue before the United States Supreme Court. He has appeared in front of the court on three different instances, including his successful augment in Doggett v. United States in 1992. One of Bill's greatest successes as an attorney was when he litigated Florida's momentous statewide prison conditions case, which produced considerable improvements in sufficient care for those who were incarcerated. Whether it's a complicated white-collar defense case or death penalty case, Bill has successfully exonerated his clients for the past four decades he's been practicing law