Ignorance of the law is no excuse, right? Well, as a result of a recent
Supreme Court decision (
Heien v. North Carolina), police officers are now exempt from this rule. The case involved a police
officer who pulled over a car that had only one functioning brake light.
The officer thought the law required two. He was wrong. The Supreme Court
nevertheless said an officer does not violate a person’s rights
under the Fourth Amendment—the one which protects all of us from
unreasonable searches and seizures—as long as his ignorance of the
law is reasonable. For everyone else, no such ignorance, no matter how
reasonable, will excuse illegal conduct.