One of the topics we write about rather frequently on this blog is the importance of working with an experienced criminal defense attorney when one faces charges based on a questionable police investigation. This is a particularly important issue in cases involve drug offenses.
Very often, drug arrests occur after police undertake an investigation for lesser offenses. For example, a 22-year-old Destin man was arrested earlier this month for possession of marijuana and possession of a controlled substance after committing a “pedestrian violation.” Sources don’t specify exactly what the violation was, but do say that the man took off running after providing the officer with identification. When the officer was able to run the man down and detain him, he discovered drugs and paraphernalia.
Police officers are trained to look for signs of suspicious activity that give them the legal right to conduct more extensive searches, and there is nothing wrong with this. The problem comes when officers undertake a search or seizure without an adequate basis for doing so. Investigations involving minor offenses are prone to this, since officers can easily end up assuming a basis exists for a search when it really does not. Illegal searches can happen so quickly that a defendant may not realize what the officer is doing is wrong until afterward, or even until discussing the case with an attorney.
When an illegal search turns up incriminating evidence leading to criminal charges, it may be possible for a defendant to have that evidence suppressed from trial. There are limitations on this remedy, though, and it is important to make a strong argument when seeking to employ it. Working with an experienced criminal defense attorney is important, therefore, not only to determine when an officer may have acted illegally in an investigation, but also to seek the appropriate remedy in court.