When it comes to our Constitutional rights, people in North Carolina and nationwide tend to focus on the few that really matter to our lives. One of these is the Fourth Amendment. This guarantees that unreasonable searches and seizures will not occur. While this right is in place, this does not mean it is always upheld, even when a warrant is issued. When a search requires a warrant, this document must meet certain requirements before it can be deemed valid. Even more so, when a warrant is valid, it must be followed when seizing items during the parameters of the search.
The Fourth Amendment states that people have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effect against unreasonable searches and seizures. It also states that searches that require a search warrant must be based on probable cause. When a search warrant is issued, it must detail the place that is to be searched and the persons or things that are to be seized.
In order to be a reasonable search, one of two requirements must be met. First, a judge must issue a search warrant that is based on probable cause. Or second, a certain situation arises that justifies a search without a warrant. This commonly occurs when there is a search for weapons subject to an arrest.
Thus, when a person is charged with a drug crime following a search, it might be possible to assert a defense that claims that there was an unlawful search and seizure. In doing so, one needs to determine if a search warrant was necessary. There is a two-part test to establish this, which determines if there was a legitimate expectation of privacy. First, did the person subjectively expect the place or thing in question to be private? And second, was this expectation objectively reasonable?
The exclusionary rule could apply if there was an illegal search. This means that evidence discovered during an unlawful search will be thrown out. Therefore, some or all of the evidence collected could be suppressed because of an unlawful search, helping a defendant have the charges against them reduced or dismissed.
Facing drug charges can be a serious situation. The penalties could be harsh depending on the charges and the accused's criminal history. Therefore, a strong criminal defense could help the accused avoid serious consequences.
Source: FindLaw, "Search Warrant Requirements," accessed Feb. 24, 2018