If face a criminal charge or if you have been arrested for a crime, whether you committed it or not, one of the best ways to deal with it is to take a step back, remember not to panic, and take the time to understand your rights as well as your responsibilities.
Doing so can help protect your rights and safeguard you against making some of the most common mistakes that can jeopardize the outcome of your case.
The U.S. Constitution Offers Some of the Best Protection – Or Does It?
The U.S. Constitution affords you numerous different rights as it relates to your arrests. The police have to follow specific protocol when arresting individuals, searching individuals and their property, and seizing any contraband or objects. These constitutional limits are the foundation of this law not just in Miami but across the country.
Read on to learn more about some of the basic issues concerning your rights, and how these issues could have an impact on your case—both positive and negative.
For example, if an officer did not have the right grounds to search you or take property, that evidence could be tossed in court.
Is Your Privacy REALLY Protected?
The cornerstone of the search and seizure provision in the Fourth Amendment has to do with privacy. In order to protect this freedom, the Fourth Amendment prohibits authorities from unreasonable searches and seizures at any time.
This does mean, however, that the Fourth Amendment allows officers to conduct searches and seizures that are considered reasonable.
Typically, this allows the police with some limits to override your individual privacy concerns and conduct searches of the following examples of personal property:
- Your person
- Your car
- Your boat
- Personal documents and files (both hard copies and electronic)
- Bank account records
- Any other items believed to be probable cause for yielding a search
In these situations, the judge would either need to issue a warrant in order to stipulate the police officer's right to do this or the circumstances of the situation will justify the search without a warrant first being issued.
Read more about privacy protection and search and seizure under the Fourth Amendment here.
Protection or Deception? The Gray Area…
As you can imagine there is somewhat of a gray area regarding these situations, and can be a little bit confusing if you have never encountered search and seizure law before.
By working with a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney, you may be able to determine that the cornerstone of your case has to do with the officer's improper search and seizure.
If this is true, then you will need to demonstrate that they did not have proper grounds to search you or your belongings.
It is likely that the police officer's testimony in response will be that there was an indication that such a search would yield evidence showing that you were guilty of or associated with a crime. You and your West Palm Beach criminal defense lawyer need to be prepared for how you will respond to this in court.
When You CAN'T Rely On the Fourth Amendment…
The Fourth Amendment applies to situations where an individual would otherwise have a legitimate expectation of privacy regarding the item or the place where the search occurred. If this does not apply, there is no protection under the Fourth Amendment because there are no privacy issues.
Courts will typically issue a two-part test to determine whether or not the defendant had legitimate expectations of privacy at the time of the search. This includes whether the person actually expected a degree of privacy and whether the expectation of this person was reasonable.
For example, an individual who uses a public restroom will expect not to have his or her privacy invaded and the majority of judges would find this to be reasonable.
If a video camera was hidden in a public restroom and evidence was collected from it although any reasonable person would find this a violation of privacy, this could be seen as an improper search. Evidence associated with this collection could be thrown out in court.
Learn more about what the Fourth Amendment could mean for you here.
The Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Doctrine
There are certain situations where police officers overstep their bounds and count on you not to be familiar enough with your rights so as to fight the charges against you on the grounds of them not upholding your constitutional rights.
The most important thing to know about evidence collected during an illegal search and seizure is the fruit of the poisonous tree doctrine.
This means that evidence that has been collected as a result of an illegal search is usually inadmissible in court as well as any additional evidence derived from that piece of evidence.
Powerful Protection From a West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Attorney
While we are protected under our own constitutional rights, you yourself might not be enough to fight back against any criminal charges or for an unlawful search and seizure.
A reputable, experienced, and aggressive criminal defense attorney West Palm Beach can offer the powerful protection of your rights you need.
Visit here to learn more about how a West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can help with the criminal law process.