I often represent individuals accused of committing crimes related to possession, sale and transportation of illegal drugs, prescription drug offenses related to pharmacy crimes, and offenses related to marijuana cultivation and possession.
The primary defense in most drug possession and sale matters involves whether the prosecution can establish that the evidence was lawfully seized from the defendant at the time of the search. If the court determines that a controlled substance was uncovered as a result of an unlawful search and seizure, such evidence may be found to be inadmissible in any criminal proceeding. If a violation is shown, the evidence will be suppressed, and the case may be dismissed.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures by police officers and other government officials. Under the Fourth Amendment, searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable, and, absent exigent circumstances, a warrantless entry to search for weapons or contraband is unconstitutional even when a felony has been committed and there is probable cause to believe that incriminating evidence will be found inside the residence. In cases where drugs were seized without a warrant, the prosecution must show that the Fourth Amendment has not been violated.
Although a warrantless entry is presumptively unconstitutional, in order to suppress the evidence discovered as a result of a warrantless search and seizure, individuals must show that they had a reasonable expectation of privacy in the item seized or the place searched at the time of the warrantless police entry. There are a number of methods law enforcement officers may use in order to collect evidence of illegal activity without violating individuals’ reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, the police may use specially trained dogs to search cars or luggage for drugs or explosive devices. They can also utilize helicopters or airplanes to conduct observations of illegal activities from public airspace. The police may also search the exterior areas of real property from locations accessible to the general public, such as a driveway. The police may also try to hide their actual “probable cause” behind their claimed justification for the search in a so-called “wall stop,” a tactic common to San Diego drug cases.
Depending on the circumstances of each case, an experienced criminal defense lawyer may be able to persuade a trial court to dismiss criminal charges if the evidence was obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment.
This office handles all matters related to unconstitutional searches and seizures and suppression of evidence in San Diego County. We have successfully litigated search and seizure issues in dozens of cases. For a free consultation, contact us at (619) 232-5122 or: [email protected]
For more information on methods law enforcement use in conducting warrantless searches, see the following:
For more information on drug crimes, see the following:
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