Last week we discussed the Fourth Amendment and some scenarios during which it may come into play during an encounter with the police. To recap, the Fourth Amendment grants us certain safeguards when we are stopped and/or searched by law enforcement, and also prevents unlawfully seized items from being used against us as evidence in a criminal proceeding.
The level of protection we are granted under the Fourth Amendment will depend upon a variety of factors, including what is being searched, where the search is being conducted, the overall circumstances involving the police action, and more. The Fourth Amendment can come into play during an arrest, searched performed subsequent to an arrest, a traffic stop, an investigation for evidence, and many other scenarios.
Challenges Involving the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment grants you certain rights. However, your attorney must be able to accurately spot where, when, and how law enforcement officials may have violated your rights in order to make sure that you are protected. There are a variety of circumstances where violations of your Fourth Amendment rights could present an opportunity for your defense attorney to attack all, or part, of the prosecution's case against you. The following list is by no means exhaustive but just serves as an example of some of the ways in which violations of the Fourth Amendment can be a part of your defense strategy.
A search warrant was not valid: There are various requirements for obtaining a search warrant. If, for example, a warrant did not accurately describe the area in which police may conduct a search, the warrant may not be valid and therefore the subsequent search may not be valid and evidence obtained during the search may not be admissible.
A search warrant was improperly executed: If a search warrant was not properly executed, the resulting search may be called into question and evidence seized during the search may not be admissible. For example, if the police obtained a warrant to search Apartment 1C of a building and they performed a search of the entire first floor and found controlled substances in Apartment 1B, it is possible that this search would be deemed improper and evidence collected during it deemed inadmissible.
Probable cause was not present. The police must have “probable cause” to believe a person performed a crime before placing that person under arrest. If the belief that leads to an arrest does not rise to the level of "probable cause," the arrest may be invalid. For example, if the police have a vague description of a suspect fleeing a robbery and arrest an individual who doesn't even fit the description, this may be deemed insufficient for probable cause grounds.
Seattle Criminal Defense Attorney
The Fourth Amendment can play a critical role in mounting an effective criminal defense. If your rights were violated at any point in time, some or all of the evidence against you may be inadmissible in court. If you are facing criminal charges, contact former King County prosecutor Steve Karimi online or by calling our office at 206-621-8777.