Under federal laws and Texas state laws, you have a right to a reasonable expectation of privacy. With some exceptions, law enforcement officers may not conduct searches that violate your reasonable expectation of privacy without a search warrant or your express permission.
Evidence collected in violation of your rights may not be admissible in court, and attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, will fight to suppress any illegally obtained evidence in your case. See below for more information about illegal search and seizure and the steps you should take if you believe your rights have been violated.
Know Your Privacy Rights
It is important to know your privacy rights so that you can recognize when those rights are violated. Privacy laws are complex, and they are often subject to interpretation. Because of the legal complexities, it is always critical to consult with an attorney if you think you may have been subjected to an illegal search and seizure.
As mentioned above, law enforcement officers may not conduct a search that violates your reasonable expectation of privacy without a search warrant, except under some specified circumstances. For example, they may conduct a warrantless search if they have your permission to search your property, or they may conduct a warrantless search to check for weapons or contraband under certain fact scenarios.
An officer is also permitted to seize evidence or contraband without a warrant if the items are within the officer’s plain view, so long as the officer is lawfully present when he or she viewed the evidence. This issue is frequently raised when an officer pulls over a vehicle and subsequently identifies drug paraphernalia within the officer’s plain view, located inside of the car. The drug evidence will generally only be permitted to support a possession charge if the officer’s vehicle stop was legal.
Search And Seizure Violations
When an illegal search and seizure results in an arrest and prosecution, defendants can challenge the admission of evidence that was illegally obtained. Even evidence obtained with a search warrant might be inadmissible in some cases if a police officer lied or omitted important facts in the warrant application.
With some exceptions, incriminating evidence that is illegally obtained by police may not be used by prosecutors to prove guilt. Even in cases where a defendant is undeniably guilty if the court rules that evidence was illegally obtained and no other evidence exists, charges against the defendant may be dismissed.
Do Not Answer Questions Until You Have An Attorney
If you are questioned by police officers or prosecutors, it is critical that you not speak with them unless you have an attorney present. As Miranda warnings provide, it is true that anything you say to them can be used against you.
You should not argue with law enforcement officers, and you should not give any information to police or prosecutors, even if you think the information is helpful to your defense. You do have a right to an attorney when you are being questioned in police custody, so you should contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
Preserve Any Existing Evidence
It is necessary to preserve any evidence in your favor, especially evidence that shows that the police violated your rights by conducting an illegal search and seizure. Helpful evidence may include contact information for witnesses, your arrest report, and police camera footage. You should also take notes about everything that happened before, during, and after your arrest, including statements made by the police.
When Evidence Is Illegally Obtained
As previously noted, if you can prove that evidence was illegally obtained, in many cases, the evidence cannot be used against you and will be suppressed by the court. If the court suppresses evidence against you and the prosecutor does not have sufficient evidence to prove your case, your attorney may negotiate with prosecutors for a plea to a lesser charge or seek to have the case against you dismissed altogether.
Search And Seizure Defense Attorney
If you believe your arrest was based on an illegal search and seizure, you need a criminal defense attorney who has experience representing clients in both state and federal court matters. Attorneys at Vinas & Graham, PLLC, have the knowledge and skills necessary to aggressively defend your case and hold law enforcement agencies accountable for illegally obtained evidence.
Contact us to schedule a consultation at 713-229-9992 or by submitting an online form. Follow our Facebook page for more information about search and seizure violations and other criminal defense matters.