ILlegal Search & Seizure

Police Mistakes Often Lead to Dismissals

Examining your criminal case often begins with examining your initial contact with police. Police officers who suspect a crime is being committed often search the vehicle or person and seize any evidence that they find. However, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from illegal and unreasonable searches and seizures. If the courts determine that you were illegally or unreasonably searched, any evidence seized by police from that search likely will be suppressed (excluded). If crucial evidence is excluded, the state may be placed in a position where they will have to drop the charges.

At The Bigney Law Firm in Orlando, Florida, our lawyers regularly win our cases due to law enforcement misconduct such as illegal search and seizure. Fourth Amendment issues often arise in drug and weapons charges, but they can arise in all other types of criminal cases as well.

What is the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution secures the following right:

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

The mere suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed is not sufficient to justify a fishing expedition by police. Probable cause is a reasonable suspicion, supported by circumstances and what the officer observes.

Sneaky Tactics used by Police

If you are a teenager, have dreadlocks, are "driving while black" or are stopped in a neighborhood where drugs are sold, police will sometimes stop your vehicle and accuse you of a minor infraction, whether you committed a driving infraction or not. Police then go on a fishing expedition, hoping to find a reason to make an arrest. First, they ask if you have illegal drugs or weapons. If you say "no," the officers will usually ask if they can search you and your vehicle. If you say "no" again, they may call for a dog to smell for drugs, try to intimidate you into allowing a search, or keep your driver's license to prevent you from leaving. Police will do anything to get into your car including suggesting to you that if you have nothing to hide, you would let them search.

It is unlawful for police to search the vehicles of people they stop unless they have a lawful reason to do so. There is a limit to what officers can do to intimidate you or to the amount of time they can detain you. Our lawyers will examine the circumstances and determine if the police were guilty of misconduct.

After finding drugs or other evidence of a crime, police may create a way to justify the search. The most common reason the police use to justify a search is claiming they smelled marijuana. Even if the police did not smell marijuana, they know that the courts will likely believe them over you. Our lawyers are experienced at defending these cases and having improperly seized evidence suppressed.

Free Case Evaluation

If you face criminal charges based on evidence that was seized by police, your best defense is to contact a lawyer as soon as possible. To schedule a free case evaluation with an attorney at The Bigney Law Firm, call 407-792-2923 any time of the day or night or fill out our contact form. For your convenience, our office is located in downtown Orlando, Florida. Se habla español.

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