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Search and Seizure

Fort Wayne Attorney Protects Clients from Illegal Search and Seizure

Skilled lawyer provides proactive defense to drug possession and other criminal charges

Even though some other states have legalized medicinal marijuana, attitudes toward other illicit drugs are hardening, due in large part to the opioid addiction crisis ravaging America. Here in Indiana, the “war on drugs” continues unabated. Law enforcement is aggressive, and at times the police are overzealous, trampling on the civil liberties of suspected lawbreakers. The good news is that when the police violate your constitutional rights, they are not entitled to use evidence they find against you. But the only way you can benefit from constitutional protections is to retain an attorney who is willing to fight for your rights. If you have been subjected to an illegal search and seizure, trust The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey to challenge the police procedures and fight for the justice you deserve.

When is a search or seizure illegal?

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution says:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This amendment is meant to protect people from unreasonable searches by government officials, such as the police. In the normal course of police practice, a search of your person, home or vehicle is deemed reasonable if the police have a warrant that meets these requirements:

  • The officer applying for the warrant has a reasonable belief a crime may have been committed.
  • The officer applying for the warrant has sworn to the facts of the application.
  • A warrant is limited in scope to a particular residence, specific persons and precise items.

So, if the police have a warrant for your brother-in-law, they cannot arrest you for being in his home. If the police have a warrant for your neighbor’s apartment, they cannot search yours simply because you share a fire escape or hallway. If the police have a warrant to search for drugs, they cannot take your laptop.

Exceptions to the warrant requirement

A search without a warrant might be reasonable if it fits one of the exceptions to the warrant requirement:

  • Exigency — An emergency requires an officer to act before a suspect gets away, evidence is destroyed, or an innocent person is injured.
  • Consent — A person in charge of a premises voluntarily allows officers to conduct a search, or a suspect allows himself to be searched.
  • Plain view — The evidence seized is in open view of the officer while the officer is behaving in a legal manner.
  • Automobile exception — An officer may search a vehicle if he or she has a reasonable belief that drugs or other contraband are in the car.
  • Hot pursuit — An officer in pursuit of a fleeing suspect may enter a dwelling after the suspect has entered.
  • Search incident to lawful arrest — If an officer is in the action of making a lawful arrest, he or she may perform a pat-down search to ascertain whether the suspect is armed.

If none of these exceptions applies, you may have been subjected to an unconstitutional search. A common type of violation is a traffic stop based on racial profiling.

What protections does the law provide against illegal search and seizure?

In deciding what remedies might be available for an illegal search, the Supreme Court of the United States came up with the exclusionary rule. This rule says that any evidence seized as the result of an illegal search is inadmissible in a court of law. In addition, any clues gotten through an illegal search that led to evidence means that evidence is considered tainted, which the court refers to as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” For example, if you were arrested on drug charges because of an illegal traffic stop, the prosecution would not be able to present the drugs as evidence, so the charges would have to be dropped. In the practice of criminal law, this affords a defendant great protection. An experienced defense attorney will ensure you make use of these protections.

Contact an aggressive Indiana criminal defense lawyer to fight for your rights

If you have been subjected to an illegal search and seizure, The Law Offices of Ryan E. Lackey is prepared to assert your constitutional rights. For a free consultation and cost-effective representation from an experienced Fort Wayne attorney, please contact the firm online or call us at 260-222-7364.

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  • Fort Wayne Office
    6135 Stoney Creek Drive
    Fort Wayne, Indiana 46825
    Phone: 260-437-0197
    Fax: 260-745-4703