As a citizen of the United States of American, the law surrounding searches and seizures is very much relevant to you. It doesn’t matter what your past relationship with the law or criminal justice system might be; you are still eligible for 4th Amendment rights. Specifically, the U.S. Constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures by government officials. This includes Texas state police officers and your local PD.
Another piece to the puzzle is Article 1, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution which states, “The people shall be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and possessions, from all unreasonable seizures or searches, and no warrant to search any place, or to seize any person or thing, shall issue without describing them as near as may be, nor without probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation”.
If you feel that your “reasonable right to privacy” has been violated, you are encouraged to seek legal counsel from a law firm that specializes in this area like Vinas & Graham/Houston.
When A Search Happens
A search is when law enforcement looks for something in a designated area. Generally, they are looking for weapons used in a crime or illegal drugs. When it comes to public spaces, the police have the right to search as much as they desire. However, when it comes to your private property, such as your vehicle or home, you aren’t held to any unreasonable searches.
If the police want to search your private property, and they have reasonable cause for doing so, they must obtain a search warrant from a judge. The “reasonable cause” has to come with evidence and facts and cannot come from gut feelings or hunches. If the police search without these constituents being in place, they are breaking the law, and you should contact an attorney to discuss your 4th Amendment rights.
When A Seizure Happens
A seizure is an incidence where the police take an item or individual into their custody. If you are detained by the police, there must be probable cause for them to do so. Law enforcement must have evidence that you have committed a crime, were in the act of committing a crime, or on the verge of committing a crime. Just like a search, a seizure cannot occur unless facts are present, and not simply a “feeling” on the police’s part.
Once a piece of property is confiscated by the police, it becomes evidence. Items that are on your person, in your vehicle, home, or office can be seized.
It is imperative that your 4th Amendment rights are not breached during a seizure. If you believe that they were, your next move should be to contact an attorney who can assist you.
The Exclusionary Rule
The Exclusionary Rule protects you from illegally obtained evidence. Once a search and seizure have already been conducted, you and your attorney can collect evidence and determine how the search and seizure process went down. Your attorney will typically petition the court in an attempt to inspect all collected evidence against you in order to determine whether your 4th Amendment rights have been upheld or not.
What this means is that any evidence collected against you under illegal search and seizure practices must be omitted from evidence. Any evidence found as a result of the illegally obtained evidence must also be omitted. In other words, fruit taken from the forbidden tree cannot be used against you.
This rule protects you from the state introducing incriminating evidence that was unconstitutionally seized, even a confession that was made before you were able to obtain an attorney.
Filing A Motion To Suppress In Order To Protect Your 4th Amendment Rights
Once charges are filed against you and a court date is on the calendar, your lawyer will typically file a motion to pause the criminal case. This is so they can suppress any evidence against you that may have been seized illegally.
Your attorney will scrutinize all evidence and put together a motion to suppress without revealing the reasons why said evidence should be omitted from the case.
Vinas & Graham/Houston Criminal Law Firm Protects Your 4th Amendment Rights
Your privacy and rights under the American & Texas Constitution are incredibly important to us. If you feel like law enforcement has illegally searched or seized your private property, contact Vinas & Graham/Houston Criminal Law Firm, today. Our country was founded on a constitutional legal system that needs to be upheld. Our attorneys look forward to helping you make sure that it stays that way.
Follow us on Facebook.