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Nurse Arrested for Refusing to Allow Police to Take Patient’s Blood

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Footage from the body-cam of a Salt Lake City police officer recently went viral, causing a massive, national debate over the behavior of law enforcement in stressful situations. In the video, a nurse at a Salt Lake City hospital can be seen arguing with a police detective about his request to take blood from an unconscious patient . For many, the video raised serious questions about whether such blood draws would violate a person’s rights. As it turns out, however, the United States Supreme Court has largely answered the question already.

The Disturbing Footage

The incident took place in late July, but the video only become available a little over a week ago. The video was taken by body-cam of an officer who was at the hospital, as well as from footage taken by hospital security cameras. The footage shows a staff nurse refusing to allow a police detective to draw blood from the unconscious victim of a car accident. The nurse tells the detective that blood cannot be taken unless the patient gives consent, the police have a warrant, or the patient is under arrest.

The detective becomes agitated and threatens to arrest the nurse for interfering with a criminal investigation. After checking with hospital officials, she stands her ground and is taken into custody and dragged out of the hospital. She was never charged, however, and an investigation is now underway by the Salt Lake City police department.

Warrantless Blood Tests

The nurse in the video was accurate in her interpretation of the law. Police officers cannot mandate a blood draw from a suspect—conscious or not—without a warrant. Even in states like Illinois where consent to submit to blood alcohol testing is implied by driving on the state’s roadways, a person cannot face criminal charges for refusing a blood test without a warrant. Administrative penalties may apply but not criminal consequences.

This was recently decided by the United States Supreme Court in its ruling in Birchfield v. North Dakota . The high court determined that a blood draw constitutes a search as covered under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution and that police officers must obtain a warrant before taking blood of a suspected drunk driver—even if the driver has already been arrested.

It is this element that makes the Utah case even more disturbing. In the video, the detective claimed he wanted the patient’s blood to rule out intoxication, not because he had probable cause to suspect the patient was driving under the influence. Utah’s implied consent law is nearly identical to the one in Illinois in that they both require an officer to have probable cause to believe that a driver is under the influence before requesting a breath, urine, or blood test.

Protecting Your Rights

If you have recently refused a breathalyzer or blood test and you believe your rights were violated by the police, contact an experienced Will County criminal defense attorney . Attorney Jack L. Zaremba is a former prosecutor who understands that the rights of the defendants are often compromised during criminal investigations, and he will work tirelessly on your behalf. Call 815-740-4025 for a free consultation today.

Understanding Probable Cause and 4th Amendment Searches

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Television shows and movies may create a false picture of what it is like when someone is served with a search warrant by law enforcement. Many citizens are left with the impression of a polite knock on the door, presentation of the warrant, and then entry by police. While, in reality, that may happen from time to time, the truth is that conducting searches is not always as simple as what is shown on the screen.

What Makes a Search Legal?

The 4th Amendment protects citizens from an illegal search and seizure of property. This requires that, in most cases, law enforcement obtain a search warrant prior to conducting a search. To secure a search warrant, a judge must be convinced there is probable cause for police to enter private property.

Because the 4th Amendment does not define “probable cause,” that burden falls to the courts. One commonly shared explanation of the term is as follows:

• In 1949, the U.S. Supreme Court wrote, “... probable cause exists where the facts and circumstances within the officer's' knowledge and of which they have reasonably trustworthy information are sufficient in themselves to warrant a man of reasonable caution in the belief that an offense has been or is being committed.

Perhaps a more basic definition might be that:

• Probable cause results when the level of evidence rises above that of mere suspicion.

Here are few additional examples to help one better understand probable cause. Compared to other legally accepted levels of suspicion or proof, probable cause is greater than “reasonable suspicion,” but it is:

• much less than proof “beyond a reasonable doubt.”
• much less than “clear and convincing proof.”
• less than a “preponderance of the evidence.”

What Makes a Warrantless Search Legal?

It is true that, at times, police may conduct a search of a vehicle or home without first securing a warrant. There are a few criteria that make that possible, including, but not limited to:

• Illegal items left in plain sight of law enforcement, be they in a vehicle when stopped by police, or in the home when opening the door after officers knock.
Admission of wrongdoing after being observed in an illegal act by police, as well as other pressing circumstances.

Be it guns , drugs or narcotics , or other property seized during a search, it is important to retain an attorney who understands the distinctions of probable cause, and legal searches.

Meet with a Joliet Criminal Defense Attorney

If you believe that law enforcement personnel illegally searched your home, vehicle, or person, it is important to speak with a legal professional who understands the nuances of search warrants. Contact an experienced and knowledgeable Will County defense lawyer to discuss your concerns, as well as any charges you may be facing. The Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba will direct a thorough review of the details to build a strong defense on your behalf.

Illinois Bail Reform Enacted

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Earlier this summer, Illinois Governor Bruce Rauner signed the Bail Reform Act . The new statute, which went into effect immediately after the signing, is said to be an attempt at alleviating overcrowding in county jails, and a form of relief for those unable to afford the bail amount for minor and nonviolent offenses.

Opponents of the old “cash bail” system claim it is unfair, and make the argument that it favors defendants charged with violent crimes who have money over the indigent or destitute who are charged with nonviolent crimes .

What the New Law Changes

Previously, when charged with a crime, a defendant who was ordered held in lieu of bail was held in the county jail until they paid at least 10 percent of the bail amount. Those who could not afford the amount would remain in custody throughout their trial or until the matter was resolved. The Bail Reform Act considers the following :

• Cash bail is no longer required for those charged with a nonviolent misdemeanor crime or low-level felony, such as prostitution, driving under the influence , drug possession or theft .
• Rather than cash bail, a judge can order an alternative, such as electronic home monitoring, curfew, drug counseling, stay away orders, or in-person reporting.
• Defendants in custody can request a bail review hearing and receive credit for time served.
• Rather than focus on a defendant’s ability to pay their bail, the “promise to appear” system places a greater emphasis on whether or not one poses a threat to public safety, or their failure to appear for future court dates.

The legislation was heralded as a major step toward bipartisan cooperation by Illinois lawmakers.

Some Dissatisfaction with the Change

This new law is expected to alleviate some of the overcrowding in jails, but it did not go far enough for some in the law enforcement community. Although he campaigned for an alternative to the cash bail system, Cook County Sheriff Tom Dart expressed dismay that the statute did not include provisions that made it more difficult for violent offenders who could afford bail to get released from custody.

Speak with a Will County Defense Lawyer who Understands the Justice System

When you are facing criminal charges or appearing for a bail hearing, or if you need legal advice about a pending case, it is important to retain a qualified and experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney . Contact the Law Office of Jack L. Zaremba to obtain the assistance of a lawyer who will conduct a meticulous review of all the facts of your case, and build a strong and reliable defense strategy.

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