Drug crime laws with search and seizure often can conflict with personal privacy of a U.S. citizen protected under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Drug crime lawyers often emphasize that every individual has a right to remain free from unreasonable or unfair intrusion by the government into his or her person, home, property, or business. Such intrusion may be through police stopping people on the street, by way of arrest, or searching of home or business premises. Americans believe these fundamental principles are sacrosanct and inviolable.
Legal safeguards have been put in place by the lawmakers and the judiciary to ensure that the Fourth Amendment rights of an individual are protected, and the officers of law enforcement may interfere with those rights only under limited circumstances and using specific means. An individual may seek legal advice from a criminal defense lawyer in a situation where such rights may have been compromised in a criminal case.
Protection Under the Fourth Amendment
Within the realm of criminal law, the search and seizure protection under the Fourth Amendment extends to:
• Seizure or physical apprehension by a law enforcement officer of an individual via an arrest or stop.
• Search by the police of items and places where a person legitimately expects privacy, such as his or her person, baggage, clothing, vehicle, home, place of business, or hotel room.
Individuals are safeguarded under the Fourth Amendment against illegal searches and detentions. It also prevents the use of unlawfully seized items as material evidence in a criminal case. The extent of protection in a given case may depend on the nature of the arrest or detention, the features of the premises searched, and the conditions or circumstances under which such a search occurred.
Application of the Fourth Amendment
People are ordinarily provided constitutional protection under the Fourth Amendment in many situations. Some of the situations are listed as follows:
• Stopping a person for police questioning while he or she is walking down the street.
• Searching of a vehicle by a police officer after a person has been pulled over for a relatively minor traffic infraction.
• Conducting a search or seizure upon the arrest of a person.
• Entering the home of a person by a police officer to place him or her under arrest.
• Entering the home of a person by a police officer to search for crime related evidence.
• Entering the business premises of a person by a police officer to search for crime related evidence.
• Confiscation of a person’s personal property or vehicle by a police officer and placing it under police control.
In most situations, a law enforcement officer is not permitted under the law to conduct a search or seizure of an individual’s property, except when the officer possesses a valid arrest warrant, search warrant, or has a probable cause to believe that an individual as committed a particular crime.
Broward County criminal lawyer William R. Moore has years of experience in criminal defense, including sex crimes and DUI. A felony or misdemeanor conviction of any type can have far-reaching consequences on your freedom, your employment, and your personal life. If you have been arrested in south Florida, contact Broward County Criminal Defense Attorney William R. Moore, P.A., with offices in Fort Lauderdale-Dade, Broward, and Fort Lauderdale Counties.