The United States Constitution is the foundation of our nation’s
laws. Not only does it provide us with a number of important rights that
safeguard our freedoms, it also functions to keep the government in check
and to prevent government powers from using its authority to unjustly
encroach upon individual liberty. In the scope of criminal law and our
criminal justice system, your Constitutional rights are critical to ensuring
that law enforcement and judicial officials play by the rules.
Aside from your right to remain silent and your right to have legal representation
when charged with a crime, one of the most significant Constitutional
rights you possess is the right to be free from unlawful search and seizure,
or investigations into you and your property that are unreasonable.
At The Hammer Law Firm, LLC, our St. Louis criminal defense attorneys are
passionate about protecting the rights and freedoms of clients charged
with all types of crimes. While their cases may all be unique, they all
have the right to certain protections from the government. As defense
lawyers, it becomes our job to not only challenge the prosecution’s
version of the facts when they levy charges upon our clients, but to also
carefully evaluate government procedures and actions when investigating,
arresting, and charging our clients to ensure that they have not violated
our clients’ rights.
Here are a few important things to know about unlawful search and seizure:
Fourth Amendment – The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals
from intrusion by the government. There are a few exceptions as to when
the government has an interest in intruding upon the lives of individuals,
such as when a crime occurs. Even though the government can investigate
criminal suspects and “intrude” upon their lives, there are
specific methods for doing so and they must be followed.
Search and seizure – In the scope of criminal law, a search and seizure is any government
intrusion, as part of a criminal investigation, into anything or any place
that you would reasonably have an expectation of privacy. This can include
searches of your person, home, work, vehicle, and other possessions, as
well as the seizure of your possessions for evidence of a crime or the
seizure of your person during an arrest.
Protection – Your Fourth Amendment right ensures that law enforcement take
specific steps in conducting searches and seizures as part of a criminal
investigation. This means you are protected from law enforcement simply
investigating you for a crime without any reason to do so, such as when
police breathalyze you for DUI when they have not noticed any signs of
impairment of have any reasonable reason to believe you are under the
influence. Law enforcement must have a justifiable cause for conducting
a search and seizure.
Unlawful – An unlawful search and seizure may vary in particularities from
case to case, but it ultimately involves law enforcement violating a person’s
rights by failing to abide by the special rules for investigating individuals
in connection to a crime. For example, an unlawful search and seizure
occurs when police conduct a search of your home or arrest you without
a valid warrant, or without having probable cause to connect you to a crime.
Checks and balances – Your right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures acts
as a check on government authority and ensures the government, including
law enforcement agencies, do not overstep their bounds. When law enforcement
do violate your rights, say by searching your vehicle without probable
cause, any evidence they obtain through that unlawful search will nearly
always be thrown out of your case. Often, this means key evidence can’t
be used, making it exceedingly difficult to charge and convict a defendant
of a crime. Cases are commonly dismissed when unlawful searches and seizures
result in inadmissible evidence.
Knowing your legal rights it very important, but exercising them when they
matter most is critical. In order to fully leverage the power of your
Constitutional rights and make your voice heard when being charged with
a crime, you can work with our firm’s proven and highly experienced
defense attorneys. Our strategy always consists of thoroughly investigating
what transpired during law enforcement’s investigation and arrest
in order to ensure your rights were not violated. If they were, our former
prosecutors turned defense lawyers know precisely how to take action and
help you pursue the best outcome possible.
If you or someone you love has been arrest in St. Louis or anywhere in
the surrounding areas of Missouri, The Hammer Law Firm, LLC is available
to review your case free of charge and discus how we can help.
Call now to discuss your case during a FREE consultation.