At Lotze Mosley, LLP, our criminal defense attorneys in Washington D.C. and Maryland believe the U.S. Constitution was designed to limit the power available to the government and law enforcement while still giving them the ability to keep the peace.
Part of this important document especially when it comes to our Drug Crime cases in Washington D.C. is preserving every citizen’s right to privacy by preventing law enforcement from searching residents without warning — or, more importantly, an appropriate reason.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution is an integral part of our protection from illegal searches and seizures throughout the country.
Here is why.
How the Fourth Amendment Protects Your Privacy
If you have not been detained or are not under suspicion of having committed a crime in Washington D.C. or Maryland, the Fourth Amendment is designed to limit the powers of law enforcement and guarantee your right to privacy.
Simply put, law enforcement is not permitted to search a suspected individual unless they have either detained the individual or have reasonable suspicion to think a crime has been committed.
That can include searching your vehicle, home, backpack, purse, or other personal belongings.
While many believe the Fourth Amendment only protects their belongings from illegal searches, this dynamic part of our Constitution also protects your person, including taking blood or breath samples when accused of being intoxicated in public, driving under the influence, or for other DNA-collection purposes.
Are There Exceptions to the Illegal Search & Seizure Rules?
Law enforcement can obtain the right to search an individual or their property if it is considered to occur in a “reasonable” manner.
This exception can become the very core of some of our criminal defense cases, as the line can be stretched very thin at times, and if your rights are violated as a result, we will provide the evidence necessary to present those facts to the court.
Other exceptions to allow authorities to search for evidence without violating our clients’ Fourth Amendment rights may include:
- Probable Cause
There are two instances where the probable cause may render a search legal.
The first is when law enforcement obtains a warrant from a judge to proceed with a search, and the other is if you have been pulled over for suspicion of DUI or another crime, where law enforcement can skip the warrant, lawfully arrest you, and then conduct a search.
- Extenuating Circumstances
If law enforcement believes the destruction of evidence is imminent and delaying the search or waiting for a judge to approve a warrant will ensure it is destroyed, the search may be justified.
- No Search Occurred/In Plain Sight
When potential evidence is left in plain sight where no person could reasonably expect to receive privacy law enforcement may legally obtain the evidence without a warrant.
- Non-Authority Detainment
The Fourth Amendment only applies to law enforcement and government personnel.
Shop owners, private security personnel, and citizens have the right to detain someone and search them if they believe a crime was committed. This is typically the case during shoplifting allegations, when a security guard may search a backpack to ensure a crime did not occur or confirm one did.
Do You Believe Your Arrest Was the Result of an Illegal Search & Seizure in Washington D.C. or Maryland?
If you believe you were arrested in violation of your Fourth Amendment rights, contact our experienced criminal defense attorneys in Washington D.C. and Maryland at Lotze Mosley, LLP to determine the best course of action for your unique case by calling 202-393-0535 today.