Commitment To Justice

How Search And Seizure Issues Can Affect Indiana Drug Charges

Drug crimes frequently arise after a chance encounter with police. A traffic stop may escalate into drug crime allegations. In other circumstances, police may investigate some seemingly unrelated incident that allegedly implicates someone else. Members of law enforcement may pursue allegations brought during an investigation of someone else. What are a person’s rights when police follow hunches, or leads in unrelated matters?

Far too many people either end up in jail or facing other life-altering consequences due to nonviolent drug offenses. It is critical for you to work with experienced criminal defense lawyer who can analyze the details to prepare a solid defense strategy for drug charges in Indiana. Search and seizure procedures  are important issues related to any arrest for drug charges. Hiring a skilled attorney can make all the difference in potentially spotting these issues and leveraging them to secure a positive outcome

An Experienced Drug Crime Defense Law Firm

At Hayes Law Office in Indianapolis, Indiana, the firm’s criminal defense lawyer draws on his nearly 20 years of experience to fight for the accused in criminal cases. Drug crime defense lawyer Philip Hayes understands the intricacies of drug charges, as well as the tendencies of local prosecutors and judges. He has a thorough understanding of criminal law and brings a commanding presence in court. As a strong and effective advocate for people from all walks of life, he provides the diligent, aggressive representation that is essential for challenging drug charges.

Why Fourth Amendment Rights Are So Critical In Drug Cases

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people against unreasonable search and seizures by law enforcement or other government agents. It protects people’s right to privacy. In many cases, that means police officers can’t search or seize your stuff without a warrant. Even if law enforcement obtained a warrant, a criminal defense lawyer may review the history of the warrant to determine if there may be a basis for challenging the validity of the warrant or its execution.

When police officers violate your Fourth Amendment rights by searching you or your vehicle without proper legal grounds, the evidence they obtained may be tainted. That means Fourth Amendment violations may potentially lead to the suppression of evidence—and possibly dismissal of the charges. However, if you don’t raise the issue in the right way and in the right timeframe, you could miss out on your chance to challenge the charges. That’s why it’s so important to enlist a skilled criminal defense lawyer.

When Can Police Search You Or Your Vehicle?

There are several exceptions to the warrant requirement. The big one involves traffic stops. Many drug charges arise from so-called routine traffic stops. However, police can’t simply pull your car over and search it for no reason. They must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you’re violating criminal or traffic laws before making a traffic stop.

Note that any alleged traffic violation may support the stop. Also noteworthy, however, a simple hunch of feeling the police officer may have is not sufficient. Moreover, in order to conduct a warrantless search of a person or the vehicle, there must be additional probable cause for law enforcement to do so, based on a recognized exception. This is a factual determination based on the unique circumstances of your case.

Some Recognized Exceptions To The Warrants Requirement

Exceptions to the warrant requirement include:

  • A search incident to arrest: Police can legally search your person without a warrant if they’re placing you under arrest. The reasoning is that such a search is necessary for officer safety. However, the scope of that search may be an issue in drug cases.
  • Consent: Police can legally search you or your things with your consent. This is the most common route that police officers take to avoid getting a warrant. However, to be valid, your consent must be knowing and voluntary. If the police officer obtained your consent by coercion or deception, you may have grounds to challenge the charges.
  • Plain view: Contraband left in plain view may be seized as evidence. For example, if you got pulled over and had drugs visible in your vehicle, the police can seize them. However, the offer must be validly and legally in a position to view the contraband. In the vehicle example, they must have had a reasonable suspicion to pull you over.
  • Automobile exception: Police can search your car if they have probable cause to believe they will find drugs. For example, if the police pulled you over and could smell marijuana in your vehicle, they would have probable cause to search it.
  • Exigent circumstances: This applies in emergency situations when it’s unreasonable to obtain a warrant and the police have an exigent need. It’s rare for this exception to come up in drug cases.

Whether an exception to the search warrant requirement applies in your case may  questions of law, as well as possible factual questions. Hayes Law Office can advise you of any search and seizure issues with your drug charges.

Minimizing The Potential Consequences Of Drug Charges

Your Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer may seek every opportunity to resolve charges. Trial may not always the only solution to resolve a criminal case. In many situations, alternatives to trial may provide substantial benefits in minimizing the full force of the potential damage a criminal charge may lead to in the long term. Indiana law provides substantial penalties for serious felonies. While dismissal or acquittal are clearly beneficial, minimizing the full impact of the charges may help to protect your long-term goals. Speak with Hayes Law Office to learn what options may be available under your unique circumstances.

Why Is A Detailed Review Helpful?

It may seem that reviewing for constitutional violations is excessive. It is important to note that evaluating the propriety of police action involves more than looking for a technicality. Violations of constitutional rights are not just technicalities; they are violations of a person’s rights. That is why the law recognizes the ability to seek to suppress evidence in a criminal case. It may be true that not every case includes constitutional violations, but you owe it to yourself to speak with a criminal defense lawyer who may evaluate the circumstances.

Wondering If There Are Search And Seizure Issues With Your Indianapolis Drug Charges?

If you’re facing drug charges of any kind, you deserve a knowledgeable, effective advocate in your court. Hayes Law Office can review your situation to find the strongest avenue for fighting the charges, including pinpointing any violations of your constitutional rights. Reach out now to get started with a free initial consultation: Call 317-982-6122 or send the firm an email.