In our last post, we began looking at the issue of search and seizure law, particularly the warrant requirement, which is an important area to explore when building a thorough criminal defense case. This is especially true when it is suspected that law enforcement hasn’t done its job properly in this area.
As we mentioned last time, there are several possible ways law enforcement might bungle the warrant requirement. One is to fail to obtain a warrant when one is required. This can happen when officers improperly conclude they are not conducting a search or when they improperly assume their search qualifies as an exception to the warrant requirement, of which there are several.
Another possibility, though less likely, is when officers fail to present sufficient evidence to justify a search warrant. The standard for obtaining a warrant is that police must present probable cause to believe they will discover evidence of criminal activity in the search. This isn’t a particularly difficult standard to meet, but officers must have more than a bare suspicion to obtain a warrant.
A third possible scenario where search and seizure law may be violated is when officers properly obtain a warrant but fail to properly carry it out. Search warrants must meet certain requirements with regard to specificity of location and what items are being sought. Officers may not search outside the scope prescribed by the warrant. When this happens, they haven’t done their job properly. It should be understood, of course, that there may be circumstances where officers legally obtain evidence they were not seeking as part of the search warrant, but there are legal and illegal ways to obtain such evidence.
Next time, we’ll continue this discussion by looking at how an experienced advocate can seek remedy in a criminal case for evidence connected to an illegal search.