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Unreasonable Search and Seizure in Connecticut Drug Possession Cases

 Posted on March 22,2024 in Drug Charges

CT defense lawyerHaving drug charges filed against you can be both intimidating and confusing. While you may be alarmed by the charges, you may not even realize that law enforcement took illegal measures to gather such incriminating evidence.

The U.S. Constitution affords all citizens the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure. If you believe that you were the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, do not hesitate to call our Stamford criminal defense lawyer.

What Rights are Provided through the Fourth Amendment?

The Fourth Amendment gives us the right to be secure from unreasonable government searches. Simply put, you are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures in places where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Your Home

It is assumed that a police officer needs a warrant to conduct a search of your home. There are exceptions, such as, but not limited to, if you give consent, if the search takes place immediately following an arrest, or if evidence is in plain view.

Your Vehicle

A police officer may search your car only if there is probable cause. Probable cause means that law enforcement has reasonably trustworthy information to draw a certain conclusion. In drug possession cases, an officer must have reason to believe that you are carrying contraband.

Under the automobile exception, both Connecticut and federal law allow a police officer to search your car without a warrant or your consent. However, the officer must have sufficient evidence to believe that your vehicle contains an item that is connected to a crime. Additionally, if the search is incident to arrest (immediately following a lawful arrest), then a warrantless search can be conducted without your consent.

Your Person

The criteria are different for a police officer to search your person. If there is reasonable suspicion that you are engaged in criminal conduct, the officer can stop and pat down a suspect, known as a stop-and-frisk.

The stop-and-frisk, commonly known as a Terry stop, was legalized in Terry v. Ohio. This U.S. Supreme Court case permits law enforcement from stopping a suspect on the street if the officer has reason to believe that the person committed, is committing, or is about to commit a crime and poses a danger to public safety.

Fourth Amendment Violations

The most common Fourth Amendment violations include the following:

The Drugs Were Not in Plain Sight

Under the Plain View Doctrine, police officers are allowed to conduct a search and seizure of your home if an illicit substance is readily visible. For example, if you place a cannabis plant in the front window of your apartment and it can be seen from the street, this would be considered plain sight. In this situation, a police officer is allowed to conduct a warrantless search of your apartment.

However, if the cannabis plants could not be seen without entering your apartment, this does not fall under the Fourth Amendment exception.

The Police Did Not Have Your Consent 

If no warrant has been issued and you do not consent to the search, a police officer is prohibited from searching your home, vehicle, or person. However, there are exceptions which negate the consent requirement.

A Fairfield County criminal defense lawyer will know if any exceptions apply in your situation.

Search Did Not Immediately Follow the Arrest

A police officer is allowed to search your vehicle following a lawful arrest, but the search must be conducted at the same time. If you are taken into police custody and an officer decides to search your vehicle hours later, the evidence collected will be inadmissible.

A Stamford, CT, Criminal Defense Lawyer Fighting for Your Rights

Being charged with a criminal offense is a serious matter. It requires top-notch representation to defend the charges brought against you. If you are facing criminal allegations, our Fairfield County, CT, criminal defense lawyer is ready to fight for you. Contact Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner online or by calling 203-348-5846 to schedule your free consultation today.

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