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Americas Most Famous Criminal Law Cases Americas Most Famous Criminal Law Cases

Bronze medal Reporter Adv. John Posted 11 May 2019 Read More News and Blogs
Americas Most Famous Criminal Law Cases


Criminal law is a law that connected to crime and it involves different types of conduct seeming as harmful, threatening to the health, safety, property, and welfare of people.

Criminal law punishes people who break up laws of criminal statues. There are a lot of criminal attorneys in the United States who handles all cases in the area of criminal law. Most famous criminal cases in the United States stated below:


Fourth Amendment Rights: Freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures

•       Mapp v. Ohio, 367 U.S. 643 (1961) Evidence that is obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment is inadmissible in state court. Notable for expanding the "exclusionary rule" originally articulated against only the Federal government in Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383 (1914).

•       Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966) The application of the Fourth Amendment's protection against warrantless searches and the Fifth Amendment privilege against self incrimination to searches that intrude into the human body means that police may not conduct warrantless blood testing on suspects absent an emergency that justifies acting without a warrant.

•       Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347 (1967) The Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches and seizures applies to all places where an individual has a "reasonable expectation of privacy."

•       Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968) Police may stop a person if they have a reasonable suspicion that the person has committed or is about to commit a crime and frisk the suspect for weapons if they have a reasonable suspicion that the suspect is armed and dangerous without violating the Fourth Amendment.

•       Bivens v. Six Unknown Named Agents, 403 U.S. 388 (1971) Individuals may sue federal government officials who have violated their Fourth Amendment rights even though such a suit is not authorized by law. The existence of a remedy for the violation is implied from the importance of the right that is violated.

•       United States v. United States District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan, 407 U.S. 297 (1972) Government officials must obtain a warrant before beginning electronic surveillance even if domestic security issues are involved. The "inherent vagueness of the domestic security concept" and the potential for abusing it to quell political dissent make the Fourth Amendment's protections especially important when the government engages in spying on its own citizens.

•       Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. 213 (1983) The totality of the circumstances, rather than a rigid test, must be used in finding probable cause under the Fourth Amendment.

•       New Jersey v. T. L. O., 469 U.S. 325 (1985) The Fourth Amendment's ban on unreasonable searches applies to those conducted by public school officials as well as those conducted by law enforcement personnel, but public school officials can use the less strict standard of reasonable suspicion instead of probable cause.

•       Vernonia School District 47J v. Acton, 515 U.S. 646 (1995) Schools may implement random drug testing upon students participating in school-sponsored athletics.

•       Board of Education v. Earls, 536 U.S. 822 (2002) Coercive drug testing imposed by school districts upon students who participate in extracurricular activities does not violate the Fourth Amendment.

•       Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006) Police cannot conduct a warrantless search in a home where one occupant consents and the other objects.

•       In re Directives, (2008) According to the United States Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Court of Review, an exception to the Fourth Amendment’s warrant requirement exists when surveillance is conducted to obtain foreign intelligence for national security purposes and is directed against foreign powers or agents of foreign powers reasonably believed to be located outside the United States.[2]

•       United States v. Jones, 565 U.S. 400 (2012) Attaching a GPS device to a vehicle and then using the device to monitor the vehicle’s movements constitutes a search under the Fourth Amendment.

•       Riley v. California, 573 U.S. ___ (2014) Police must obtain a warrant in order to search digital information on a cell phone seized from an individual who has been arrested.

•       Carpenter v. United States, 585 U.S. ___ (2018) Government acquisition of cell-site records is a Fourth Amendment search, and, thus, generally requires a warrant.

Right to an attorney

•       Glasser v. United States, 315 U.S. 60 (1942) A defense lawyer's conflict of interest arising from a simultaneous representation of codefendants violates the Assistance of Counsel Clause of the Sixth Amendment.

•       Betts v. Brady, 316 U.S. 455 (1942) Indigent defendants may be denied counsel when prosecuted by a state (overruled by Gideon v. Wainwright (1963)).

•       Gideon v. Wainwright, 372 U.S. 335 (1963) All defendants have the right to an attorney and must be provided one by the state if they are unable to afford legal counsel.

•       Escobedo v. Illinois, 378 U.S. 478 (1964) A person in police custody has the right to speak to an attorney.

•       Miranda v. Arizona, 384 U.S. 436 (1966) Police must advise criminal suspects of their rights under the Constitution to remain silent, to consult with a lawyer, and to have one appointed to them if they are indigent. A police interrogation must stop if the suspect states that he or she wishes to remain silent.

•       In re Gault, 387 U.S. 1 (1967) Juvenile defendants are protected under the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.

•       Michigan v. Jackson, 475 U.S. 625 (1986) If a police interrogation begins after a defendant asserts his or her right to counsel at an arraignment or similar proceeding, then any waiver of that right for that police-initiated interrogation is invalid (overruled by Montejo v. Louisiana (2009)).

•       Montejo v. Louisiana, 556 U.S. 778 (2009) A defendant may waive his or her right to counsel during a police interrogation even if the interrogation begins after the defendant's assertion of his or her right to counsel at an arraignment or similar proceeding.

Other rights regarding counsel

•       Strickland v. Washington, 466 U.S. 668 (1984) To obtain relief due to ineffective assistance of counsel, a criminal defendant must show that counsel's performance fell below an objective standard of reasonableness and that counsel's deficient performance gives rise to a reasonable probability that, if counsel had performed adequately, the result of the proceeding would have been different.

•       Padilla v. Kentucky, 559 U.S. 356 (2010) Criminal defense attorneys are duty-bound to inform clients of the risk of deportation under three circumstances. First, where the law is unambiguous, attorneys must advise their criminal clients that deportation "will" result from a conviction. Second, where the immigration consequences of a conviction are unclear or uncertain, attorneys must advise that deportation "may" result. Finally, attorneys must give their clients some advice about deportation—counsel cannot remain silent about immigration consequences.

Right to remain silent

•       Berghuis v. Thompkins, 560 U.S. 370 (2010) The right to remain silent does not exist unless a suspect invokes it unambiguously.

•       Salinas v. Texas, 570 U.S. 178 (2013) The Fifth Amendment's protection against self-incrimination does not protect an individual's refusal to answer questions asked by law enforcement before he or she has been arrested or given the Miranda warning. A witness cannot invoke the privilege by simply standing mute; he or she must expressly invoke it.


•       Dusky v. United States, 362 U.S. 402 (1960) A defendant has the right to a competency evaluation before proceeding to trial.

•       Rogers v. Okin, 478 F. Supp. 1342 (D. Mass. 1979) The competence of a committed patient is presumed until he or she is adjudicated incompetent.

•       Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986) A defendant has the right to a competency evaluation before being executed.

•       Godinez v. Moran, 509 U.S. 389 (1993) A defendant who is competent to stand trial is automatically competent to plead guilty or waive the right to legal counsel.

Detainment of terrorism suspects

•       Rasul v. Bush, 542 U.S. 466 (2004) The federal court system has the authority to decide if foreign nationals held at Guantanamo Bay were wrongfully imprisoned.

•       Hamdi v. Rumsfeld, 542 U.S. 507 (2004) The federal government has the power to detain those it designates as enemy combatants, including United States citizens, but detainees that are United States citizens must have the rights of due process and the ability to challenge their enemy combatant status before an impartial authority.

•       Hamdan v. Rumsfeld, 548 U.S. 557 (2006) The military commissions set up by the Bush administration to try detainees at Guantanamo Bay are illegal because they lack the protections that are required by the Geneva Conventions and the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

•       Boumediene v. Bush, 553 U.S. 723 (2008) Foreign terrorism suspects held at Guantanamo Bay have the constitutional right to challenge their detention in United States courts.

Capital punishment

Main article: Capital punishment in the United States

•       Furman v. Georgia, 408 U.S. 238 (1972) The arbitrary and inconsistent imposition of the death penalty violates the Eighth and Fourteenth Amendments and constitutes cruel and unusual punishment. This decision initiates a nationwide de facto moratorium on executions that lasts until the Supreme Court's decision in Gregg v. Georgia(1976).

•       Gregg v. Georgia, 428 U.S. 153 (1976) Georgia's new death penalty statute is constitutional because it adequately narrows the class of defendants eligible for the death penalty. This case and the next four cases were consolidated and decided simultaneously. By evaluating the new death penalty statutes that had been passed by the states, the Supreme Court ended the moratorium on executions that began with its decision in Furman v. Georgia (1972).

•       Proffitt v. Florida, 428 U.S. 242 (1976) Florida's new death penalty statute is constitutional because it requires the comparison of aggravating factors to mitigating factorsin order to impose a death sentence.

•       Jurek v. Texas, 428 U.S. 262 (1976) Texas's new death penalty statute is constitutional because it uses a three-part test to determine if a death sentence should be imposed.

•       Woodson v. North Carolina, 428 U.S. 280 (1976) North Carolina's new death penalty statute is unconstitutional because it calls for a mandatory death sentence to be imposed.

•       Roberts v. Louisiana, 428 U.S. 325 (1976) Louisiana's new death penalty statute is unconstitutional because it calls for a mandatory death sentence for a large range of crimes.

•       Coker v. Georgia, 433 U.S. 584 (1977) A death sentence may not be imposed for the crime of rape.

•       Enmund v. Florida, 458 U.S. 782 (1982) A death sentence may not be imposed on offenders who are involved in a felony during which a murder is committed but who do not actually kill, attempt to kill, or intend that a killing take place.

•       Ford v. Wainwright, 477 U.S. 399 (1986) A death sentence may not be imposed on the insane.

•       McCleskey v. Kemp, 481 U.S. 279 (1987) Evidence of a "racially-disproportionate impact" in the application of the dealth penalty indicated by a comprehensive scientific study is not enough to invalidate an individual’s death sentence without showing a "racially discriminatory purpose."

•       Breard v. Greene, 523 U.S. 371 (1998) The International Court of Justice does not have jurisdiction in capital punishment cases that involve foreign nationals.

•       Atkins v. Virginia, 536 U.S. 304 (2002) A death sentence may not be imposed on mentally retarded offenders, but the states can define what it means to be mentally retarded.

•       Roper v. Simmons, 543 U.S. 551 (2005) A death sentence may not be imposed on juvenile offenders.

•       Baze v. Rees, 553 U.S. 35 (2008) The three-drug cocktail used for performing executions by lethal injection in Kentucky (as well as virtually all of the states using lethal injection at the time) is constitutional under the Eighth Amendment.

•       Kennedy v. Louisiana, 554 U.S. 407 (2008) The death penalty is unconstitutional in all cases that do not involve murder or crimes against the state such as treason.

•       Glossip v. Gross, 576 U.S. ___ (2015) The Eighth Amendment requires prisoners to show 1.) there is a known and available alternative method of execution and 2.) the challenged method of execution poses a demonstrated risk of severe pain, with the burden of proof resting on the prisoners, not the state.

Other criminal sentences

•       Apprendi v. New Jersey, 530 U.S. 466 (2000) Other than the fact of a prior conviction, any fact that increases the penalty for a crime beyond the prescribed statutory maximum must be submitted to a jury and proved beyond a reasonable doubt.

•       Blakely v. Washington, 542 U.S. 296 (2004) Mandatory state sentencing guidelines are the statutory maximum for purposes of applying the Apprendi rule.

•       Graham v. Florida, 560 U.S. 48 (2010) A sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole may not be imposed on juvenile non-homicide offenders.

•       Miller v. Alabama, 567 U.S. 460 (2012) A sentence of life imprisonment without the possibility of parole may not be a mandatory sentence for juvenile offenders.


Pending Cases in Courts

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