Police officers need to follow the law, too, and sometimes they illegally stop and search people. When that happens, it helps to have an attorney at your side that can fight for your rights and challenge illegal police conduct.
Can The Police Stop and Search Me Without a Warrant?
The Fourth Amendment provides that “[t]he right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated.” U.S. Const. Amend. IV. “[W]arrants are generally required to search a person’s home or his person unless ‘the exigencies of the situation’ make the needs of law enforcement so compelling that the warrantless search is objectively reasonable under the Fourth Amendment.” Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385, 393-94 (1978) (citations omitted).
“A person has been “seized” within the meaning of the Fourth Amendment only if, in view of all of the circumstances surrounding the incident, a reasonable person would have believed that he was not free to leave, and as long as the person to whom questions are put remains free to disregard the questions and walk away, there has been no intrusion upon that person’s liberty or privacy as would require some particularized and objective justification.” United States v. Mendenhall, 446 U.S. 544, 553, 100 S.Ct. 1870, 64 L.Ed.2d 497 (1980).
If the police draw their weapons and order a person to obey, or place them in handcuffs, then that person has been seized for sure. There are other instances where even if someone is not handcuffed or physically detained where a “seizure” has occurred, instances where a reasonable person would have believed he or she was not free to leave.
For example, in United States v. King, 990 F.2d 1552, 1556, (10th Cir. 1993), the court held that they had “little doubt” that the defendant was seized when the police ordered the defendant at gunpoint to place his hands on the steering wheel due to the fact that this conduct would communicate that the defendant was not free to decline the request.
What Happens to My Arrest/Case if I Have Been Illegally Searched?
If you have been illegally arrested, then a good attorney will argue before a court that any evidence obtained as a result of that illegal search should be suppressed. That would mean that the government could not introduce that evidence at trial against you. In some cases, suppression of evidence will mean that the case gets dismissed. However, some cases can proceed to trial even if there is evidence kicked out. It all depends on the circumstances in the case.
The complexity is part of the reason why we recommend that you discuss your search and seizure with knowledgeable criminal lawyers in this area. Here at the Denver Criminal Law Office of Andres R. Guevara, we aggressively investigate police conduct and have successfully argued for the suppression of evidence both in Denver and Colorado state court and federal court. Contact us for a free consultation.