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There are 4 people at this house. Drugs and a gun were found. The police decides to arrest and charge the person who was closer to the gun and drugs. DNA samples taken from the gun show two different dna fingerprints, but none belonging to the person they arrested.

Later, the police says the suspect confessed. The suspect says he didn't confess. There was no one around who can say if the confession is true or not.

I have three questions:

  1. Can this so called confession be used against the suspect in court?
  2. How can someone be charged with possession of drugs and a gun when he didn't have anything on him?
  3. If the police came into an apartment to search without a warrant, can the case be thrown out?
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    Most of this depends on the location. Different states have different criminal procedures and different laws.
    – Philipp
    Dec 17 '19 at 10:22
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    Do they have a piece of paper with the confession written and signed by the suspect?
    – hszmv
    Dec 17 '19 at 13:14
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Entering the house with the intent to search it, without having a warrant, that would get any evidence found in the house thrown out.

If the police had a good reason to enter the house - for example, a person who just had commmitted some crime fled into that house, followed by police - then after entering the house, what they would see would be valid evidence.

Or if they knock on the door, and someone in the house lets them in, knowing they have no search warrant, then what they can see would be valid evidence.

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1. Can this so called confession be used against the suspect in court?

  • Maybe, as long as it meets the criteria for being admissible evidence. It will then be open for the Defence to challenge its truthfulness based on, for example, what (if any) contemporaneous record the officer made, the evidence given by other witnesses as to what they saw and/or heard at the time, and possibly the officer's conduct and discipline record if it's relevant.

  • However, if the prosecution decide not to rely on it, or the Defence successfully argue for its exclusion under s.78 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 it will still available to the Defence who, subject to any judge's ruling to the contrary, may similarly challenge the officer's conduct and truthfulness with the potential that it may cast (reasonable) doubt on the wider case.

2. How can someone be charged with possession of drugs and a gun when he didn't have anything on him?

  • Possession does not necessarily mean to have something physically on one's person - it means to have control of something, intend to control it, and know that they control it.  For example one can possess items in another town, say a wallet left at a friend's house, or a car parked outside on the street.

3. If the police came into an apartment to search without a warrant, can the case be thrown out?

  • Possibly, but not necessarily. The police have a number of lawful powers to enter, search and/or arrest that do not require a warrant. In particular s.17, s.18, and s.32 of the Police and Criminal Evidence Act 1984 if the relevant criteria are met.

  • If the police were found to be acting unlawfully then it's possible that some evidence may be excluded or the indictment withdrawn but it's not automatically so - the overriding principle is to ensure a fair trial, with any police misconduct and/or unlawfulness being dealt with as a separate matter.

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