Robert Kraft’s lawyer filed a motion to suppress challenging how the police obtained the video evidence against Kraft and the basis of the traffic stop where Kraft’s identity was learned. In Kraft’s case, the motion to suppress is essentially the entire case assuming the video depicts what the police claim it shows. This is true in many types of criminal cases like, gun crimes, drug offenses and crimes like possession of child pornography where the legal issues in the cases determine whether the case is dismissed or resolved by plea.
In this Blog, I will look at the motion to suppress that has been field. The motion challenges the basis of the warrant.
Kraft’s best defense is to challenge the Warrant authorizing the search and hidden cameras.
How were Jupiter PD officers able to obtain video footage of the act? Hidden cameras were used to catch Kraft and others on video via delayed-notice search warrants. According to CNBC, these “sneak-and-peak” warrants allowed the Jupiter PD to secretly install cameras inside of a private business to monitor illegal activity. Delayed-notice warrants have been used in the United States since the 1970’s, and were formalized under §213 of The USA Patriot Act. In a typical warrant situation, law enforcement will give immediate notice that the warrant is being executed. A delayed-notice warrant allows law enforcement, with a judge’s explicit permission, the ability to execute the warrant without notifying the subject of the search for a limited period of time. Most importantly, the underlying reason behind granting a delayed-notice warrant, thus waiving the immediate notification requirement, is to prevent the following: danger to life or safety of an individual, flight from prosecution, destruction of or tampering with evidence, intimidation of witnesses, or other serious jeopardy to an investigation.
Jupiter PD and prosecutors cite that the case is and was a human-trafficking investigation, however none of the affidavits that have been released describe trafficking occurring at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa. The Motion to Suppress argues that the police made misrepresentation in order to obtain the warrant about what was occurring in the Spa.
An additional issue is the basis to stop Kraft after he was leaving the spa. The prosecution would have to argue that they were monitoring the camera and saw what occurred prior to the stop. If the camera was being monitored, the prosecution would argue that they had probable cause based on the video from the camera to make a motor vehicle stop based on reasonable suspicion that Kraft committed criminal activity. If the police were not contemporaneously monitoring the camera, but stopping everyone that left to obtain their names, that would have violated the 4th Amendment as there would not have been reasonable suspicion at the time of the stop.
DOES THE MOTION TO SUPPRESS MEAN THE CASE WILL NOT BE RESOLVED.
On March 18, 2019 the Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office offered Kraft, along with the 24 other men who were charged, a diversion plea. Pretrial Diversion Programs with no formal admission required but a requirement that Kraft admit that he would have been found guilty at trial. Typically, pretrial diversion programs do not require an admission of guilt. In this case, given Kraft has no record the State should be offering a diversion without an admission or an outright dismissal of the case. A prosecutor has a duty to ensure that police comply with the law. The prosecutor should have serious issues with the police conduct in the case and do the right things and offer a dismissal of the case. As a practical matter, the public embarrassment is a more stringent penalty than any court imposed penalty.
The NFL Potential Repercussions
On top of his potential criminal liability, everyone in the NFL, including owners, are subject to the NFL’s personal conduct policy. According to ESPN, the policy covers “conduct by anyone in the league that is illegal, violent, dangerous, or irresponsible, puts innocent victims at risk, damages the reputation of others in the game, and undercuts public respect and support for the NFL,” per its text. Owners and club or league management are held to higher standards under the policy and are “subject to more significant discipline when violations … occur.” League owners have previously faced large fines and suspensions for admissions of guilt relating to substance related charges, and the Patriots themselves have suffered fines, loss of draft picks, and suspensions for spying and “Deflategate.”