Are you facing drug charges stemming from a search of your car, home or other property? More than likely, you wonder about your future. All you want is to resolve the charges in the best manner possible.
To that end, it's important to review all of the evidence prosecutors intend to present to the court. However, what you may not realize holds a great deal of significance to your case is the search itself, not just what police allegedly discovered.
What does a legal search look like?
In order for a search to qualify as legal, it must fall within the following parameters:
- The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prevents government officials from conducting unreasonable searches. For a search to fall under the definition of "reasonable," police must prove that it is a reasonable probability that a crime occurred and that the search will reveal evidence of that crime.
- If the search takes place where no expectation of privacy exists, police may not need a search warrant.
- In many cases, police need a warrant to conduct a search, which means a judge must receive enough evidence to believe that the search does not violate the Fourth Amendment.
- If you consent to the search, police do not need a warrant.
- There are times when the protection of the public necessitates a warrantless search.
- Items left in "plain view" could lead to a legal search. For instance, an officer can look inside your car window and see a substance believed to be drugs or an item believed to be drug paraphernalia.
- If police know someone is actively destroying evidence, a search may be legal even without a warrant.
These are just some of the circumstances under which a search warrant probably does not violate your rights. If you can show that officers failed to follow proper procedures or otherwise violated the Fourth Amendment, the court may not allow prosecutors to enter the items seized during the search into evidence.
So, was the search in your case legal?
When reviewing the circumstances of your case, a good place to start would be the search that led to the discovery of alleged evidence against you. Even if you suspect the search fell into one of the above categories, it does not automatically mean the search was legal. Other circumstances could put the search into question. If reasonable doubt exists regarding the validity and legality of the search, that could prove useful in your defense.