There are many different scenarios in which police officers might locate prohibited or controlled substances and then arrest someone. For example, an officer who stops someone on a public sidewalk and pats them down might find drugs in their pocket or in their backpack. A police officer searching someone’s home or vehicle might find drugs that the person never even realized were there.
They could then end up facing charges because of what officers located. Those accused of a drug possession offense could be at risk of incarceration, probation or financial penalties if they plead guilty or get convicted at a criminal trial. However, they may have numerous opportunities to defend against those allegations. One common strategy involves showing that an officer violated someone’s rights by conducting an illegal search.
Illegal searches may render evidence useless
There are many standards that police officers and forensic specialists must adhere to when gathering, analyzing and storing evidence. From complying with limitations on searches to maintaining thorough records of every time someone accesses or transfers the evidence, those obligations influence whether the evidence can play a role in criminal proceedings or not.
A defense attorney can potentially ask the courts to prevent the inclusion of illegally gathered evidence during a trial. The exclusionary rule expands on the Fourth Amendment, which protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. If a police officer did not have a warrant, probable cause or permission to conduct a search, then the evidence that they uncovered while searching might not hold up during criminal proceedings.
Someone who believes that the officers who arrested them may have violated their rights typically needs to communicate that concern to an attorney as soon as possible. A defense lawyer can help gather proof that a violation occurred and may be able to use that as part of someone’s broader defense strategy. As such, learning more about the rules that govern police activity and criminal trials by seeking legal guidance may benefit those who have been recently arrested.