A man has found himself in hot water after doing what he believed to be the act of a good citizen. The man now may be facing criminal charges from the Baton Rouge police department for defamation.
A man discovered a picture on Facebook depicting an officer that appeared to be sleeping while a second officer posed next to him. The man believed the officers were acting improperly and took action to bring attention to the matter. Believing the Baton Rouge police would ignore the photo, he emailed it directly to the mayor. The mayor's office then raised the issue with the police department.
The man claims the police then informed him he was going to be investigated for possible charges relating to defamation. Despite his email being sent anonymously, the man was discovered after officers secured a search warrant and gained access to his computer IP address, phone records and place of residence. A news station's investigative unit obtained the search warrant, however, and noted that it failed to report what crime was being investigated-a required element in obtaining a warrant under federal law. The man reportedly is considering legal action against the department while officers continue their investigation.
The Fourth Amendment's protection against unreasonable searches and seizures has led the Supreme Court to encourage all searches to be completed pursuant to a lawfully executed warrant. In order to be valid, a search warrant must meet a few basic requirements. The application for the warrant must contain a sworn, detailed statement by a police officer before a neutral judge. Probable cause must be shown by facts and circumstances that support an officer's claim that a reasonably cautious man would believe a criminal offense was committed. The officer's oath can be written or oral. Additionally, a warrant must describe the person or place to be searched with sufficient particularity so that a person of average intelligence could ascertain the persons or places intended.
Any nonconformity in the procurement of a search warrant may violate the Fourth Amendment and jeopardize a prosecutor's ability to introduce any obtained evidence into court. A solid criminal defense team can help make certain all of the proper standards were abided by when an individual is facing a criminal charge.
Source: WBRZ.com, "Following photo complaint to mayor, police investigate citizen," Ryan Naquin, Nov. 10, 2014