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What does an illegal search mean for your criminal charges?

Those interacting with law enforcement have certain basic rights, including the basic right to freedom from unreasonable searches and seizures provided by the Fourth Amendment. Louisiana police officers and federal authorities can only conduct searches when they have warrants, permission or perhaps probable cause to suspect criminal activity.

These protections are crucial to avoid abuses of power, and all law enforcement agents receive training about the rules that apply to searches. Sometimes, officers who believe they will find certain evidence will violate best practices and an individual’s rights in their desire to build a criminal case.

If you believe that a police officer conducted an illegal search before arresting you, how would that potentially affect your upcoming trial?

Illegal searches can invalidate evidence

Criminal defense lawyers can potentially bring a challenge in court that will prevent a prosecutor from using certain evidence during a trial. When there is proof of police misconduct, such as an improperly executed search, the exclusionary rule can eliminate certain evidence.

Court precedent has interpreted the Fourth Amendment in such a way that prosecutors cannot use evidence wrongfully obtained, even if it is very clear evidence and there is a lack of other evidence connecting the defendant to the alleged crime.

The criminal courts cannot permit the use of evidence secured through police misconduct. They must set aside that evidence when presented with proof of an illegal search or other forms of illegal behavior on the part of the police officers involved. Those who strongly believe that officers violated their rights and conducted an illegal search could use that as part of their defense strategy.

The rules around searches confuse many people

Popular knowledge about the rights of criminal defendants isn’t always accurate. People often spread half-truths and misinformation based on what they saw on a television show or heard from a friend.

Sadly, this means that some criminal defendants believe that a violation of their rights has occurred when in fact the search may not seem questionable to the courts. Discussing a criminal case with a lawyer can help a defendant evaluate the best criminal defense strategies given the circumstances of their arrest.