Kraft No Longer Facing Solicitation Charges in Palm Beach County After Video Evidence Is Thrown Out
New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is no longer facing charges for prostitution solicitation. Video evidence of him allegedly paying for illicit massages at a West Palm Beach spa has been thrown out, and the government does not want to appeal this decision out of fear that it will limit the use of video evidence in other cases. This decision could impact others facing sex crime charges.
Robert Kraft’s Charges of Solicitation
Each year, law enforcement officers in the area where the Super Bowl is being played step up their enforcement of sex crimes because the game is often a magnet for human trafficking. In the weeks following the 2019 Super Bowl, several people, including Kraft, were charged with solicitation after hidden camera footage of them allegedly paying for illicit massages at a West Palm Beach spa were revealed.
Kraft’s legal team challenged the validity of the search warrant that allowed law enforcement officers to install hidden cameras inside the spa. Kraft argued the video footage violated his Fourth Amendment rights, and a Palm Beach County judge agreed that the cops didn’t take enough steps to minimize privacy concerns. Specifically, innocent people visiting the spa for normal massages were also recorded.
The government appealed this decision, but a Florida appeals court agreed with the lower court holding, “The type of law enforcement surveillance utilized in these cases is extreme. While there will be situations which may warrant the use of the techniques at issue, the strict Fourth Amendment safeguards developed over the past few decades must be observed. If they are not, any evidence obtained could very well be declared inadmissible as a matter of constitutional law.”
Following this decision, prosecutors dropped the case since they had little evidence against Kraft other than the video. The Palm Beach County State Attorney’s Office released a statement saying it decided not to take the case to the Florida Supreme Court because a loss could compromise future, unrelated law enforcement investigations.
The government’s admission that it is worried about the future of video evidence is telling. As it was in Kraft’s case, video evidence is often the strongest evidence, or only evidence the government has.
From a criminal defense perspective, we must work hard to protect the Constitutional rights of our clients. The courts were right to hold police accountable for their unconstitutional acts and throw out the video evidence against Kraft.
Video evidence should not be treated differently than any other evidence that is obtained improperly, no matter how compelling it is. The same goes for other electronic evidence. The rules of evidence, and our fundamental Constitutional rights do not change just because technology is changing.
In that same vein, just because Kraft is an influential NFL team owner does not mean he should be treated differently, or his rights should be protected more than those of an average South Florida resident. Every American, no matter their wealth, job, reputation, or anything else, must be treated fairly when they are accused of a crime.
At Valiente, Carollo and McElligott PLLC, we will continue to fight for the rights of criminal defendants in South Florida. If you have been accused of a crime, and you believe the evidence against you was illegally obtained, let’s talk.
Posted in: Sex Crimes