If you were charged with possession of a controlled substance, there’s likely a lot on your mind right now. Depending on the circumstances of your case, the classification of the drug, and the amount of the substance, the penalty can range from a misdemeanor charge to a felony. As every drug-related legal issue should be addressed on a case-by-case basis, consult a drug crimes defense attorney in St. Petersburg for insight into the details of your case.
The legal argument for many drug-related crimes is directly related to law enforcement’s actions. Citizens have legal rights related to search practices. If the police failed to abide by search and seizure laws, evidence they collected may be ruled inadmissible during a court hearing. This is why it’s critical for the accused to obtain an experienced drug crimes defense attorney in St. Petersburg at the time of their arrest.
How Law Enforcement Finds Exceptions to Warrants
As you know from television shows and movies, an officer is required to obtain a warrant before they are allowed to conduct a search of a person, their residence, or their property; however, law enforcement can conduct a search under specific exceptions, such as probable cause. If an officer obtains evidence without a warrant or probable cause, evidence collected during these searches will be presented in a hearing.
If evidence is collected without a warrant, the prosecution will rely on an exception to justify the reason for a search. For example, if the defendant gave consent to a search of their vehicle, the officer can conduct a search without a warrant. In another example, an officer can search an apartment complex unit with consent from the property owner. However, if a person does not consent to a search and an officer performs a search, this can be challenged by an experienced drug crimes defense attorney in St. Petersburg.
Other Exceptions Utilized by Police Officers
If the crime was in plain view, law enforcement officers will utilize this exception to conduct a search. For example, during a traffic stop, if an officer sees paraphernalia resting on the passenger seat of the vehicle, this evidence is in plain site and can be seized. However, if the officer discovered the paraphernalia in the glove compartment during an unauthorized search, this evidence was not obtained in plain sight and should not be presented in a trial.
There are a variety of additional practices law enforcement utilize to obtain evidence for a drug crime without a warrant. Typically, the police officer must show that they had reasonable suspicion that a crime was taking place, had reasonable suspicion that a crime had occurred, or were in imminent danger. For example, this strategy is utilized by law enforcement to perform Terry stops in which a simple pat down of a suspect “for the officer’s protection” can turn into a drug crime.
How Warrantless Seizures Relate to Your Case
For drug crime cases, an experienced defense attorney can closely assess the evidence collected in a warrantless search by law enforcement. Furthermore, a criminal defense attorney can argue on behalf of the defendant that the evidence collected during the search should be suppressed in future legal proceedings or that the charges should be dismissed entirely.
Common reasons why the evidence should not be presented in court include:
- Law enforcement failed to follow specific protocols when collecting evidence
- There was no search warrant utilized to conduct a search
- There was no exception to the warrantless search
- There was no probable cause or reasonable suspicion that a crime occured
- The search was in violation of the Fifth Amendment
If you have been charged with a drug crime like possession of a controlled substance, it’s critical that you consult a criminal defense law firm for legal representation. At Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan, an experienced drug crimes attorney in St. Petersburg can assess the circumstances of your case.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.