Criminal Defense Lawyer
Federal law does protect Americans from being unreasonably searched or seized by the government. But far too often, law enforcement violates this right by not receiving proper consent before doing a search and seizure related to drug possession offenses. Those who have been arrested for such a charge may meet with an attorney right away for more information. If you suspect that your arrest had an element of unlawful behavior committed by police, then it is crucial you notify your attorney immediately so they can do a more in-depth investigation.
Q: What does it mean in legal terms to “perform a search”?
A: A search is when something private is being examined by another. So, this may entail an officer searching you, your clothes, or anything else that belongs to you which is not obviously seen by the public. An officer can obtain consent to perform a search after receiving a yes by verbally asking the individual. However, an officer must ask in a way that is not threatening, intimidating, or confrontational in order for the search to be deemed legal.
Q: What if an officer unlawfully searched me and then seized illegal drugs?
A: In legal terms, an officer is limiting a person’s freedom by performing a seizure. For example, an officer who pulls a person over in a car, demands someone “freezes”, confiscates property, and handcuffs or arrests an individual are all forms of seizures. If any of these types of situations are not handled properly, then the officer may be in violation of law themselves. If you believe this happened to you, it is important your drug lawyer in San Francisco, CA knows so it can be an element of your defense strategy.
Q: What if the officer halted me for no apparent reason?
A: For an officer to legally do a seizure, they must have a reasonable suspicion that a person has committed an illegal activity or a serious emergency has happened. Even in minor cases of criminal activity, an officer has to be able to verbalize why he or she believes a violation of the law has occurred. The officer cannot stop a person based on a “gut feeling” — there must be some explainable signs that something wasn’t right about the situation.
Q: What about if the officer made me feel like I couldn’t refuse the search?
A: The officer may have used intimidation or threatening words to make you feel like the search was going to be done regardless of your consent. An officer can search and seize without real evidence if the person had granted them permission. Unfortunately, many people in this predicament are made to feel like they don’t have a choice, so they oblige and then find out later they could have refused the search. The court may disregard drugs obtained during the search and seizure if the officer:
- Used an aggressive tone
- Accused the person of criminal activity before search
- Cornered the person without asking permission to search
- The officer asked to search while drawing weapon
Thanks to the Morales Law Firm for their insight into criminal charges and illegal police searches for drugs.