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Rights violations may occur during arrests on federal charges

Federal authorities do not always satisfy constitutional standards in their law enforcement activities. There are numerous federal agencies operating in Pennsylvania and nationwide that make arrests on federal charges. Various examples of aborted federal arrests teach that consulting early with an attorney experienced in federal procedure is the best course to take.

Knowing about violations committed in prior cases also helps one to be constantly vigilant against authorities who overstep their power. One of the federal agencies that arrests suspects for federal crime is the Bureau of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE). A few years back, federal ICE agents started a sting operation in Philadelphia to catch what was believed to be illegal immigrants driving taxi cabs in the city.

While executing their sting, the ICE officers violently apprehended, handcuffed and held at least three individuals who had presented proper identification. The agents ignored the identification and held the drivers who were U.S. citizens or legal immigrants. The federal crime charges were eventually dropped and the individuals released, but not immediately when the agents discovered their mistake. Thus, the matter is now a federal civil rights case against ICE for damages.

Whether it's in Pennsylvania or another jurisdiction, the best procedure to take when apprehended by federal authorities regarding federal charges is to immediately ask for the right to contact an attorney. The agents may have already violated the suspect's rights or they may be getting ready to engage in the common practice of trying to trick the suspect into talking. A suspect could seriously harm his or her rights by falling for such tactics. It may very well be appropriate to talk and cooperate, but this should be done under the guidance and in the presence of defense counsel who is experienced in the federal courts and in dealing with federal law enforcement officers.

Source:, Pennsylvania: Innocent Cab Drivers Sue Over ICE Sting, No author, Dec. 23, 2013

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