Many people don’t fully understand their rights when they are dealing with the police. Illegal searches are one of the more common civil rights violations that occur during police encounters. They can have a profound impact on the outcome of a defendant’s criminal case.
Those who are preparing to defend against criminal charges at trial could potentially leverage inappropriate searches by the police as part of their legal strategy.
Illegal searches produce useless evidence
The reason why criminal defendants may want to raise claims about police misconduct during a search is that they can potentially use that violation of their rights as a reason to exclude the evidence obtained during the search from their criminal proceedings. The exclusionary rule is a criminal court standard based on the protections of the Fourth Amendment.
The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. In scenarios where officers have violated someone’s rights and gathered evidence while doing so, the evidence they wrongfully obtained cannot play a role in someone’s trial. Defense attorneys sometimes successfully prevent the inclusion of evidence gathered during searches when they can convince the courts that the police conducted an illegal search.
When is a search illegal?
There are numerous rules that apply to police searches in different scenarios, and there are many exceptions to those rules already established in both the law and court precedent. However, there is a basic standard that applies to nearly all searches.
Police generally need to have permission to search. If they cannot get permission, they can ask a judge to sign a warrant, which will allow them to conduct a limited search for specific evidence in most cases. Police officers can also search without someone’s consent or the approval of a judge if they have probable cause to suspect criminal activity or the presence of a weapon. Police officers often try to pressure people into giving permission and thus, waiving their rights during an encounter.
Those who have endured an illegal search can potentially use that rights violation as part of their criminal defense. Exploring whether a rights violation occurred can help those who are planning a criminal defense strategy with the assistance of a legal professional to evaluate every option for the benefit of their own protection.