Not all searches and seizures are legal. Numerous rules and procedures have been implemented to minimize the risk of illegal searches and seizures happening.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution dictates that illegal searches and seizures are unconstitutional. You may wonder when such a search and seizure is lawful. You may want to read up on when that’s the case if you’re facing drug charges. This knowledge may determine how your case moves forward.
What constitutes an illegal search?
All individuals have “legitimate expectations of privacy.” Many instances in which an officer infringes upon this right may constitute an illegal search. The one exception to this rule is if an individual doesn’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. A search that occurs in such an instance may be a lawful one.
Generally, property located inside of a person’s home is private. Police generally need a search warrant to search a person’s home, although there are some exceptions to this rule (such as when an officer has reason to believe the evidence of a crime is being destroyed or there is an emergency).
Police officers may also search a person’s home if they give verbal or written consent for law enforcement to do so. A defendant may waive their right to claim that a warrantless search took place as a defense strategy if they willingly permit officers to enter.
Law enforcement can generally look at any evidence in plain view without first obtaining a search warrant. For example, if an officer spots your marijuana stash and smoking device on the stand next to your door after you open it to talk to them, that’s in plain view — and no warrant is needed for an officer to use that evidence to arrest you.
Could the lack of a search warrant affect your case?
An instance in which a judge deems a search unlawful may result in prosecutors not having enough evidence to pursue their case. A solid defense strategy may include challenging the legality of a search of your home — among other options. If you’re facing drug charges, remember: You don’t need to fight back on your own.