If you are facing a drug possession charge, retaining a seasoned lawyer is almost necessary if you wish to reach a favorable outcome. Depending on the circumstances of your arrest, an attorney could investigate and determine if there were any illegal searches. These issues with Chattanooga drug possession cases could work in your favor because the burden of proof lies with the prosecution. If they are unable to use illegally seized evidence, the case could be dropped. Reach out to an experienced drug possession attorney today to discuss your legal options.
The most common constitutional issue that arises in Chattanooga drug possession cases is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure of personal property. Most drug cases involve a citizen and police interaction that begins on the road. These traffic stops begin simply enough with a failure to use a turn signal, running a stop sign, or other relative minor infraction. Often, officers in the course of their investigation of the traffic stop either smell or observe that the individual has drugs in the vehicle, or they infer that the individual has consumed drugs.
The individual has the right to refuse an officer’s request to search their car and may ask if they are free to go. If the officer decides to search the individual’s vehicle without a warrant, they must have probable cause to do so. Probable cause could be as simple as smelling marijuana or observing a bag of suspected narcotics in the vehicle. If the officer does not have probable cause to conduct a warrantless search, the officer would need a search warrant supported by a totality of circumstances, which is nearly impossible to do in the context of a traffic stop. The Supreme Court has identified case law to support the idea that a traffic stop cannot go on for hours while an officer obtains a search warrant, and the individual is free to go if there is insufficient evidence to support an arrest or a probable cause search of their car because they have the right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure.
Another common context of a drug search and arrest is in the individual’s home, and their home affords alleged offenders a much higher level of protection than when they are in their vehicle. An officer simply cannot, without consent, come into one’s home without a warrant, absent of extenuating circumstances. It is rare that police are able to successfully conduct a warrantless search of an individual’s home and for that search be upheld against a constitutional challenge in court.
Individuals must remember that even if the police do conduct a search of their home, they must refrain from making any admissions or statements against their own interests. That means allowing the officers to do their job, staying quiet, and letting their attorney do their job later by challenging the validity of a warrantless search of their home. Making no admissions or statements other than requesting a lawyer lets the individual’s lawyer use their skill set to expertly challenge the constitutionality of the search of their home.
If a judge agrees with an attorney’s argument that a search of a defendant’s home was unconstitutional, any evidence discovered during that search, including narcotics, is inadmissible in the case. Anything produced from an unconstitutional search, such as drugs, is often referred to “fruit of the poisonous” tree and is thrown out. If there is no other evidence upon which to support the case, the prosecution has no choice but to dismiss the charges against the individual.
An experienced attorney searches for evidence regarding the circumstances surrounding the arrest and the facts of the case, such as the alleged offender’s location and activities at the time that they encountered police, who searched their property, what was found during that search, and if any other people were present. Attorneys also seek to determine if there was a lawful reason, such as valid prescription, for the alleged offender to possess certain substances. It is vitally important for the individual to disclose as much information as possible to a lawyer regarding the evidence and the situation so that the lawyer is able to give them comprehensive advice at the outset of a drug possession case and fight potential issues with Chattanooga drug possession cases.
With the help of an attorney, you could address the many issues with Chattanooga drug possession cases. This includes filing a motion to suppress any evidence that was gathered while violating your constitutional rights. Do not delay, reach out to an experienced and compassionate attorney today.