Was the evidence against you obtained illegally?
Prosecutors are often zealous in criminal cases, and if you listen to police and prosecutors alone, the evidence against you may feel overwhelming. However, a basic defense question to ask is, “Was any of the evidence against you obtained unlawfully?” If so, your case could take a very different turn. Evidence that was obtained illegally can be suppressed from a criminal case, and often this leads to dropped or reduced charges.
Following are three examples of situations where evidence may have been obtained illegally:
1. Illegal searches and seizures
The Fourth Amendment to U.S. Constitution offers protections against illegal search and seizure. If the police conducted an unlawful search of your person or property, any evidence obtained in the illegal search should be inadmissible in court. Even if the police had a warrant to search your property, the scope of the warrant should be carefully scrutinized. A search warrant must be specific about the property to be searched and the type of evidence to be searched for. For more on warrants and searches, please see our previous posts:
- “Understanding the scope of search warrants“
- “When do police have the right to enter your home in Florida?“
2. The failure of police to inform you of your rights
When you are taken into custody, the police are required to tell you that anything you say can be used against you in court. Under the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to remain silent (or the right not to say anything that could be self-incriminating), and you have the right to an attorney. If the police never informed you of these rights when you were arrested or interrogated, the statements you made to police may be inadmissible in court.
Criminal charges may also be dismissed if it can be proven that investigators violated your rights by engaging in entrapment. For more on that, please see our previous posts:
- “What constitutes entrapment in a criminal case?“
- “The trouble with police informants and sting operations“
Steps you can take to protect your rights and future
When preparing your defense, every detail of your case matters. An experienced criminal defense attorney can assess your case and scrutinize it for any flaws by police or prosecutors. As soon as you can after an arrest, you should contact a criminal defense attorney to begin developing a defense strategy.