Search and Seizure in Drug Cases
Anyone who faces drug-related charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia has the same constitutional rights as anyone else who is under arrest. These include the right to remain silent, the right to legal counsel during questioning, and the right to understand the nature of the charges they are facing.
If the police have arrested you for a drug crime in Virginia, you should also understand your rights regarding searches and seizures. If the search and seizure was illegal, any evidence collected during that search would be disqualified. Knowing what the law says can help you fight the charges and clear your name.
Consenting to a Police Search
Federal courts have established that the Fourth Amendment requires police officers to have probable cause if they intend to search your vehicle during a traffic stop. This means that they must have reasonably trustworthy information leading them to believe that you have committed or are committing a crime. For example, a police officer who smells marijuana emanating from your car usually has valid probable cause. In such cases, law enforcement officers do not require your consent to search your vehicle.
However, if the police officers do not have probable cause to search your car during a drug arrest, you have the right to refuse their search.
Interacting with the Police
If the police arrest you under suspicion of a drug-related crime, you should avoid telling them anything other than basic identifying information about yourself, including your name, address, and date of birth. Anything else you say to law enforcement without a lawyer present may hurt your case.
Furthermore, if a police officer asks to search your person, your vehicle, or your home, ask them if they have a warrant permitting them to do so. If they cannot produce one, you have the right to refuse their request. Some police officers attempt to convince people to submit to a search by telling them that they will be getting a warrant soon. Yet until they have a warrant or probable cause, any search and seizure they carry out will be illegal.
What if the Police Conducted an Illegal Search and Seizure during My Arrest?
If police officers carried out an illegal search and seizure during your arrest, an experienced Virginia drug crime defense attorney can help. The criminal defense lawyers at Strickland, Diviney & Segura have challenged drug prosecutions on many bases, including:
- Traffic stops lacking probable cause or reasonable suspicion
- Vehicle searches or arrests lacking probable cause
- Home or property searches without a valid warrant
- Seizure of property not included in a search warrant
- Unlawful detainment while police summon drug-sniffing dogs
- Threats or coercion after a defendant refuses to consent to a search
- Warrants issued based on false, faulty, or outdated information
In any of these situations, our attorneys will argue that the courts should suppress any evidence the police illegally obtained. The dismissal of evidence might prompt the court to drop your charges. If the case proceeds to court, law enforcement’s illegal search and seizure could provide the reasonable doubt required for a mistrial or an acquittal.
Contact an Experienced Virginia Drug Crime Defense Attorney
If you have been arrested for drug-related crimes and you believe that the police conducted an illegal search of your person, property, or home, contact Strickland, Diviney & Segura. Our seasoned Virginia criminal defense attorneys will aggressively fight to protect your rights and liberties. Whether your case is pending at the federal or state level, we will guide you through the process. Call us today at (540) 982-7787 or contact us online for a case review to learn more about your legal options.