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The rights granted to U.S. citizens under the Fourth Amendment are among the most basic and valuable. When America was still fighting for independence from the British, one of the main wrongs they were attempting to address was the ability of the government or military to come into their homes or places of business to conduct a search without due process. People had no right to protest when an official forcibly entered their home to search for evidence of wrongdoing.
Independence and the Fourth Amendment changed that. The Amendment protects all Americans against illegal search and seizure. Law enforcement is not allowed to search your property or person without probable cause or a warrant. If they violate these rights, then they are guilty of illegal search and seizure.
That’s why criminal defense attorneys are always so interested in the manner in which their clients were arrested and the methods through which the evidence against them was obtained. Evidence wrongfully collected is considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” and cannot be used in court. Proving that illegal search and seizure took place is a particularly trustworthy strategy that may enable an attorney to get all charges against their client dropped. If you believe that you have been illegally searched, then you need the assistance of a Los Angeles search and seizure attorney.
When Is It Legal for Police to Search Your Property or Person?
Police only have the right to conduct searches under limited circumstances. As an example, a police officer observes a driver swerving on the highway. This provides him with cause to stop the driver. While speaking with the person behind the wheel, the officer observes a crack pipe sitting on the passenger seat in plain sight. Because this potential evidence of a crime was sitting in open view, the officer now has probable cause to search the driver, the car and any passengers to look for further evidence of a crime.
In another example, an officer responds to a call regarding a robbery at a convenience store. He observes a young man with a backpack running away from the store’s front door. After stopping the suspect, he has probable cause to search the young man’s backpack. However, he does not have the right to ask to have the young man show him where his vehicle is parked so that he can conduct a further search. This is because the vehicle is not under the young man’s immediate control. Any evidence taken from the car will be inadmissible.
Police use similar techniques in homes that they do in cars. They’ll knock on the front door and engage whoever answers the knock in conversation. While doing so, they’ll scan the home’s interior, looking for any potential evidence of a crime having been committed. If anything suspicious is sitting in plain sight, they have probable cause to enter the home to conduct a further search.
Law enforcement may also enter your property or conduct a search based on a warrant that is duly issued by a judge. They must have the warrant with them at the time they enter your property, and you should have an opportunity to review it. Police who enter property without a warrant and without probable cause likely won’t be able to make any charges against you stick because their evidence will be “fruit of the poisonous tree.”
If you or your property has been searched by law enforcement and you believe that your rights were violated, then you need the assistance of a Los Angeles search and seizure lawyer. Your criminal defense attorney will examine the facts of your case in great detail to determine whether or not your rights have been violated.
Are You the Victim of a Los Angeles Illegal Search and Seizure?
Unfortunately, some police officers are overzealous in their pursuit of suspects. This may lead them to ignore your Constitutional rights. Their enthusiasm for getting the bad guy off of the streets does not outweigh your rights to due process. The good news is that judges take a very harsh view of illegal search and seizure practices. They are extremely likely to throw out a case in which there is some doubt regarding the legality of the evidence collection. That’s good news for defendants, but it is necessary to be proactive in your quest to have the charges against you dropped.
Talk to a Los Angeles Search and Seizure Attorney
Don’t wait to make an appointment with a criminal defense attorney. Your lawyer will immediately begin working to clear you of all charges. Part of those efforts will relate to examining your arrest and any search conducted by the police. From interviewing you, reviewing police records and speaking with law enforcement, your attorney will be able to discern whether or not your Constitutional protection against illegal search and seizure has been violated. He’ll take this evidence to the court, where the judge may decide to have all charges against you dropped. Alternatively, it may become clear that only some of the evidence collected may be used against you. Once again, this will probably only strengthen your position.
When your freedom and your future are on the line, you need an experienced, trustworthy Los Angeles criminal defense attorney working for you. Call or click today to schedule an initial consultation. Our illegal search and seizure lawyers are ready to start defending your rights.