Examining Search and Seizure Issues and Fighting Against Drug Charges 

  • Posted on: Aug 24 2023
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The United States Constitution provides people with many protections, one of which is protection against unreasonable searches and seizures. This doesn’t stop the police, however, from routinely violating people’s rights. One area in which the authorities often run afoul of these protections is drug arrests. When the police make search and seizure errors during a drug arrest, any unlawfully obtained evidence is excluded from evidence in the related criminal case. Often, this significantly weakens the state’s case and can result in a defendant’s charges being dropped. In this article, we examine search and seizure issues in drug arrest cases.  

Warrant Requirements 

To obtain a search warrant, the police must demonstrate to a judge that they have probable cause to believe that a person has committed a crime and that a search will produce evidence of that crime. Although probable cause is a difficult legal standard to meet, search warrants are routinely issued, some of which are issued despite insufficient evidence for probable cause. 

Warrant Exceptions

Although a search warrant is generally required to conduct a search, there are several common exceptions to the warrant requirement, including: 

Plain view: When police officers see illegal drugs that are in plain view, they are authorized to seize them without a warrant.

Emergencies: If the authorities are in hot pursuit of a criminal suspect or in an emergency situation in which evidence may be destroyed if they wait to obtain a warrant, then a warrantless search may be permitted.

Consent: If the police ask a person to consent to a search, and the person gives them consent, then the search is permissible without a warrant or probable cause. 

Stop and frisk: The police are permitted to briefly stop and detain a person to determine if he or she is involved in criminal activity. However, to do so, the police first must have a reasonably articulable suspicion that the individual is engaged in some sort of criminal behavior. During such a stop, the police are permitted to frisk the person for weapons to ensure their own safety. This frisk is generally limited to a quick pat-down of the outer clothing. 

Search incident to lawful arrest: Finally, when making a lawful arrest, the police are permitted to search a person and any areas within his or her reach. If the person is in a vehicle, then this search can include any areas that are within reaching distance in the interior of the vehicle. 

Defending Against Drug Charges 

If the police find drugs during a search, then the individual in possession may face one or more drug charges. However, a person facing drug charges may have several defenses available, including those related to the initial search and seizure of the drugs. Drugs that are seized from a person during an illegal search are inadmissible in court. When unable to introduce this evidence, the prosecution is often forced to either reduce the charges or drop the case. Therefore, following a drug arrest in Virginia, it is imperative to immediately contact an attorney to begin planning your defense. 

Contact a Virginia Criminal Defense Lawyer 

If you are facing drug charges in Virginia, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney in your corner. At Walker Jones, PC, our attorneys aggressively defend clients against criminal charges throughout the state of Virginia. When you come to us for assistance, we will do everything in our power to obtain a successful result in your drug case. Please contact us today to arrange an initial consultation with a knowledgeable Virginia attorney.

Posted in: Criminal Defense