Criminal cases against some individuals rely heavily on physical evidence collected by police officers. It’s imperative that the evidence is collected in the proper manner. Police officers must never violate someone’s constitutional rights to get evidence against that person.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution sets the requirements for conducting a search or for seizing property. It establishes that people in this country have the right to avoid unreasonable searches and seizures.
When is a search considered unreasonable?
A search is considered unreasonable if the person had a legitimate expectation of privacy and the search was conducted without appropriate justification, a search warrant or permission from the subject. Appropriate justification is a situation like an officer searching for a weapon after an arrest. A drug dog alerting on something is also an appropriate justification.
The expectation of privacy means that a reasonable, average person would agree that they would expect privacy. For example, police officers could confiscate drugs without a search warrant or permission if the drugs are on the seat of a vehicle that’s clearly visible through the window. That’s a “plain view” exception to the usual rules. The officer couldn’t, however, open the car’s trunk to look for drugs unless they meet some other valid requirement for a search, such as having the driver’s permission.
If you’re facing criminal charges because of a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, you should explore defense strategies based on that violation. This is often a complex undertaking, so working with someone familiar with this type of defense is beneficial. Be sure to get started on this quickly so you don’t waste valuable time. A rushed defense is usually not a good idea.