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Louisiana mother fears boyfriend penned threatening letter

Many people in Louisiana probably have heard the terms "reasonable suspicion" and "probable cause" used without fully understanding their meanings. If you are ever suspected of a crime or arrested, those terms become very important to a criminal defense.

A New Orleans woman recently informed police about a letter she received from her estranged boyfriend, the brother of a former Louisiana congressman now serving a prison term. The woman and her ex are locked in a custody dispute over a 2-year-old child.

The woman suspected the letter she received, apparently unsigned, was from her daughter's father, since the letter was delivered directly to a home address. The complaint stated regular mail went to the woman's post office box. Few people knew the woman's street address, but the boyfriend's family members were among them.

The letter indicated the woman or "someone real close" would pay, without stating how or why payment was necessary. Included in the envelope with the letter was a picture of the boyfriend's former wife, who was found beaten and dead in her home in 2012. New Orleans authorities have not closed the case or removed the widowed husband's name from the list of suspects.

Last month, the boyfriend was arrested and charged with forgery and theft. The man was accused of cheating a homeowner out of over $60,000 in an unfinished renovation deal. The defendant also was charged with unlicensed contracting.

A police officer must have more than a notion about criminal activity to confront an individual. The suspicion must have a basis in fact or circumstances -- not just feelings.

You cannot be arrested or tried for random reasons. Your property may not be searched or seized without a warrant, unless an officer or prosecutor has probable cause – a sound, supportable reason – that you committed a crime. A criminal defense attorney protects defendants' constitutional rights against "unreasonable searches and seizures."

Source: The Times-Picayune, "Estranged girlfriend accuses Archie Jefferson of cryptic threat, TV station reports" Ken Daley, Sep. 16, 2014

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