In most criminal cases, a police officer will need to obtain a search warrant from a judge. The officer would first need to demonstrate that there is sufficient enough reason that may lead to another person’s arrest. An officer must also provide obtaining the search warrant would only further the investigation of the case.
When a Warrant Has Been Issued
After the warrant has been granted, the police now have the authority to search a suspect’s home, vehicle, or other personal property. This is how much of the evidence is uncovered in criminal cases.
However, there are some cases where police can search without needing a warrant—provided that probable cause has been established.
Examples might include the following:
- An officer has made a lawful arrest and carries out a search during the stop.
- An officer performs a search of a suspect’s automobile.
- The individual gives the police officer permission to search.
- Suspicious items are laid out in the open, in the officer’s plain sight.
- The police are in pursuit of a suspect who is running away from the scene.
- The police have obtained information from a “stop and frisk” search.
Finally, the police may conduct a search if there is a possibility that the suspect could destroy the evidence. This is an effort to intervene and preserve the evidence.
When Is a Search Unlawful?
Any evidence uncovered in an illegal search and seizure will not be admitted in trial nor can it be used as a reason to hold a defendant criminally responsible. Now, if the evidence were obtained from a legal search but it became damaged due to mishandling or some other critical error, then it must also be discounted.
Here is an example: if a lab technician taints DNA samples taken from a crime scene. Or, one of the criminologists smudges fingerprints that were recovered from a crucial artifact. While these mistakes may seem innocuous, they can drastically alter the outcome of a case.
Because the laws concerning search and seizures and evidence admissibility can be complex, it is always ideal to hire a knowledgeable Cleveland criminal defense lawyer to review your case. Henderson, Mokhtari & Weatherly Co. L.P.A. can offer legal guidance and keep you educated about your rights.
To receive your free case review, please call (216) 220-6776.