Lawyers in Colorado and around the country have been paying close attention to a lawsuit brought by a group of Muslim-Americans against the federal government. The plaintiffs say that they have faced difficulties when traveling and have even been placed in handcuffs because their names have been added to the government's terrorist watch list, and a federal judge ruled on Sept. 4 that they had been denied rights guaranteed by the Fifth Amendment.
When a crime attracts a significant amount of media attention in Colorado and around the country, the detectives assigned to investigate it are often put under great pressure to make a quick arrest. Two criminologists from Texas State University say that this desire to close cases quickly can lead to investigators becoming fixated on a prime suspect to the point where they coerce confessions and ignore exculpatory evidence. They arrived at this conclusion after analyzing the case files of 50 innocent individuals who were convicted of serious crimes.
Many cities in Colorado and other states rely on court fines and fees to balance their departmental budgets. Some defendants who are unable to pay their fines are jailed or placed on probation until they pay off the debt. This sometimes occurs even if the individual hasn't been convicted of a crime. In response, an increasing number of legal organizations are fighting to raise awareness about these practices and bring them to an end.
Authorities in Colorado and throughout the country say that asset forfeiture laws are a necessary tool to help fight crime. However, those who study the issue say that it's little more than a way for local governments to raise revenue. A study released by the Institute for Justice says that for every 1% unemployment goes up in an area, asset forfeiture increases by 9%. Furthermore, other research has found that relatively minor amounts of money are seized in most cases.
Most Coloradans do not understand their rights and how they pertain to the criminal justice system, especially when it applies to traffic/vehicle stops and DUI sobriety checkpoints. The Fourth Amendment in the U.S. Constitution provides protections against unlawful searches and seizures. Law enforcement uses a variety of methods, including the use of probable cause and reasonable suspicion, to identify and apprehend intoxicated motorists and charge them with DUIs.