Law Enforcement Can Break the Law
On February 23, 2017, our team was faced with the unexpected. Our attorneys, Victor Revill and Megan Garcia, were unlawfully arrested for doing their job: Defending our client. Never did we imagine that a situation like this would occur, but our extensive experience and trusted devotion to our clients are so strong that we would take handcuffs for them if it meant achieving their justice in the end.
Attorneys Should Defend Clients, Not Themselves, in Court
To give background on how our attorneys were unlawfully detained, it began when they exited a Blount County courthouse with a client, Mr. Edwards. At that moment, Blount County sheriff deputies Sue Ashworth and Brian K. Ratliff approached our two attorneys and client to serve a search warrant for Mr. Edwards. This warrant only applied to Mr. Edwards’s immediate person and his vehicle, so he complied by handing his car keys to the deputies, followed by receiving a pat-down.
The situation should have ended there.
However, the deputies had an underlying agenda to obtain Mr. Edwards’s three phones, which they believed contained valuable evidence relevant to their case. Since two of three phones were not on our client’s immediate person but rather in Attorney Megan Garcia’s briefcase, the deputies needed another search warrant to obtain the items.
Rather than waiting for approval on a new search warrant, the deputies’ solution was to arrest our attorneys for obstructing government operations.
What is Obstructing Governmental Operations in Alabama?
In Alabama, obstructing governmental operations is defined as intentionally obstructing, impairing, or hindering any law enforcement officer or other public servant from performing a governmental function. This offense is considered a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $6,000.
Facing Unlawful Arrest and a Deal
The deputies’ misunderstanding of the search warrant resulted in the unlawful arrest of our attorneys. Sheriffs believed our attorneys were refusing to cooperate with their operations to obtain the three cellphones when, in reality, our team was enforcing the limitations of the search warrant. As a result of our attorneys’ unlawful arrest, district attorneys offered to drop the charges against our attorneys in exchange for an apology letter admitting that the deputies did nothing wrong. Considering our attorneys did so well at defending themselves and our client by upholding the law, why would they choose to break the law by lying and saying the deputies did nothing wrong? That’s false.
A Happy Ending for All Except the Deputies
We did not accept the deputies' offer to drop the charges in exchange for our untruthful statement that they did nothing wrong. Instead, we proceeded with a trial in which we argued that we did not commit a crime because the deputies’ search warrant did not authorize the search of our attorneys, only our client. In the end, our attorneys were acquitted of all charges because the judge believed that the deputies did not have “a lawful right to inspect.”
If you’re seeking a team that has a firm understanding of the law, contact us so we can commit to your freedom as seriously as we did for Mr. Edwards. We are available 24/7 at (205) 928-6544. Our team looks forward to helping you.