The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unlawful search
and seizure. It was very important to the founders of our country that
law enforcement not have the right to search through your personal belongings
without a warrant, nor detain you without reasonable suspicion of a crime.
Most narcotics cases, such as
trafficking in cocaine
trafficking in oxycodone
marijuana grow houses
possession with intent to sell
cases are made by detectives who search somebody's home, car, or person.
When encountering law enforcement, many people get nervous and quickly
forget that they have rights. High on their own power, detectives may
use this to their advantage, tricking you into "consenting"
to a search of your home, car, or even your own person.
Under most circumstances, a police officer cannot search your home without
a warrant. The warrant must be detailed and describe the premises to be
searched and the items to be seized. If a search warrant is vague or legally
defective, a good Miami-Dade County criminal defense attorney can file a motion
to suppress all evidence (drugs) obtained as a result of this bad warrant.
A car cannot be searched unless the officer has probable cause to believe
that there is something illegal (such as drugs or weapons) inside of the car.
You cannot be personally searched unless you have been lawfully arrested
(known as search incident to arrest) . Otherwise, the officer must have
reason to believe that you may be in possession of drugs or a weapon in
order to justify a pat-down.
Search warrants and pat-downs are less common police encounters. The most
common encounter we all have is the traffic stop. Officer pulls you over
for a traffic violation, and then uses it as an opportunity to do a little
If pulled over for a traffic stop, be calm, be kind, and don't offer
up information or admit guilt. If the cop asks, "Do you know why
I pulled you over?" my advice is to just shrug your shoulders and
politely hand him your driver's license and await further instructions.
If the officer asks if he can look around your car, you have a right to say no.
In Miami-Dade and Broward, serious felony and misdemeanor cases (such as
possession of marijuana) are thrown out due to bad searches. What's
more important is that it sometimes takes a talented criminal lawyer to
determine if the search is bad.
I represent many people charged with
, possession, and all levels of drug crime. What I can tell you is that
it never matters what the officers found or how much of it they found.
What matters is if your rights were violated. If they were, then it doesn't
matter what the charge or what the quantity of narcotics may be...your
case should be dismissed.