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Were Your Constitutional Rights Violated by Police in Charleston?
The 4th Amendment of the Constitution is found in the Bill of Rights. This amendment prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures, arbitrary arrests, and is the basis by which search warrants, wiretaps, police surveillance actions, and other police actions, are approved (or disapproved) by a judge.
Unfortunately, this does not mean that law enforcement is not capable of overstepping the law. If you have been arrested and charged with a crime in Charleston, with your property searched and items seized without a search warrant, and no probable cause, it is critical that you contact an attorney to help you fight for justice and fair play, under the law.
I represent clients the way I would want to be treated: with respect, honesty, and a commitment toward great results.”
- Julian Allen
What is Probable Cause that Allows Police to Search Your Property, Person, or Vehicle?
In the United States of America, you are protected by the Constitution. For a police officer to legally arrest you, he or she must have “probable cause” to believe a crime has been committed, or that evidence of a crime can be found in or on your property. The standard of “probable cause” must be met before a law enforcement officer has the right to make an arrest, search you or your property, or seize any items that belong to you or were found under your control.
In some cases, a search and seizure can be performed without a warrant, but only when law enforcement has observed a crime being committed. As an example, a driver who is driving erratically, swerving from lane to lane, or other negligent behavior is exhibiting the symptoms of drunk driving, and can be legally pulled over by the police. Conversely, a driver who is following all rules of the road cannot legally be pulled over, as the officer does not have probable cause.
When do Police Need a Search Warrant?
When law enforcement officers have observed what they believe to be criminal activity, they will submit legal statements of their observations, or statements from an informant or from other citizens to a judge to determine whether a search warrant can be issued. When the judge (or magistrate) feels the evidence submitted is sufficient for a search warrant to be issued, it will be, soon followed by the police at your door. The warrant restricts what the police can search for, or collect in your home, office, or other location. They will have the right to search strictly for the items listed in the warrant and can only seize those items.
When is a Search Warrant Not Required?
Several situations allow law enforcement to search another person without a warrant, including:
- The individual agreed to the search.
- Evidence of a crime was in plain view of the officer.
- A search performed after a legal arrest.
- When the search could protect against the loss of vital evidence in a criminal case.
- A “Terry Law frisk” is a stop-and-frisk that can be legally performed if the officer has a reasonable suspicion that a person is armed (illegally), is engaged in a criminal act, or is about to commit a crime.
Legal Consequences of an Illegal Search
If law enforcement has violated your constitutional rights and performed an illegal search in Charleston, this fact may be crucial to the outcome of any criminal investigation or charges filed against you. When an illegal search has occurred, your criminal attorney can submit supporting evidence to the court, and request that the evidence obtained is excluded from the case. When this legal strategy presents compelling evidence of a rights violation, it may end the criminal case altogether, as the prosecution may no longer have the evidence necessary to achieve a conviction.
Arrested After an Illegal Search? Follow These Steps:
If you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure in Charleston, it is imperative that you follow these steps:
- Exercise your constitutional right to remain silent. Do not argue with police but refuse to speak to them without your attorney present.
- Contact an attorney who has the knowledge, skills, and experience to file evidence to support a case of a rights violation and could seek to have the charges dropped on that basis.
Why Choose Allen Law in a Case of Illegal Search and Seizure?
Attorney Allen focuses much of his legal work on protecting people who are victims of police misconduct. Law enforcement is required to uphold the law, and if they fail to do so, they must be held accountable, just like any other citizen. If you believe you are a victim of an illegal police stop, acts of police brutality, or an illegal search and seizure, you have the right to fight back and seek fair treatment. Attorney Allen takes on these cases with professionalism, personal, one-on-one service, and an uncommon level of dedication to the people he represents.
Contact Allen Law in Charleston, SC, at (843) 882-5005 at once if you believe you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure.