Drug Search and Seizure

Drug Search and Seizure Lawyer Serving West Palm Beach

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution grants people the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Evidence obtained through an illegal search and seizure may be suppressed. If you are caught with drugs, a trustworthy Palm Beach Gardens drug crimes attorney can investigate the facts and determine the best strategy to defend you. For example, one defense strategy involves looking at how the police discovered and seized the drugs you are accused of possessing, selling or manufacturing.

My name is William Wallshein. Drug crimes have been part of my practice for 30 years. Five of those years were spent as a state prosecutor. I now use the insights I developed during those years to challenge the admissibility of illegally obtained evidence.

Reasonable Searches in Florida

If an officer has a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed, he or she can stop and detain the person for investigatory purposes. The officer can pat the person down for weapons, which can be taken if found. If instead the officer finds drugs, the drugs may not be admissible evidence in court. At trial, a criminal defense attorney can attack the basis for the officer's “reasonable suspicion.” However, reasonable suspicion is not a very high standard. It is not as susceptible to attack, therefore, as the other relevant standard: “probable cause.”

When an officer has probable cause that someone has committed or is committing a crime, the officer can search the person and any containers or items within his reach. Probable cause is also the standard for obtaining a warrant to search someone's home. Except under limited circumstances, the Fourth Amendment requires police to seek a warrant to search a home or other private property.

To obtain a warrant, the officer must sign a sworn affidavit to the judge that he has probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be found in the location covered by the warrant. The judge will sign a search warrant permitting a search for illegal drugs or related evidence. If the police do not follow this process and fail to get the required warrant, or if they exceed the scope of the warrant, an attorney can file a motion to suppress any evidence subsequently obtained.

Police may enter a home without a warrant only if “exigent circumstances" exist. These are circumstances when the police do not have time to draft an application for a warrant and bring it to the judge. For example, exigent circumstances may exist when the police have probable cause to believe that a suspect is destroying drugs or paraphernalia to avoid being charged with a crime. Sometimes police officers make the wrong call about whether there are exigent circumstances. In those cases, the defendant’s attorney can move to have the evidence suppressed.

Contact A Florida Drug Crime Defense Attorney

When key evidence from a search is suppressed due to an illegal search and seizure, the prosecution is likely to have difficulty proving a drug crime beyond a reasonable doubt. If a prosecutor's case is weak, he or she is more likely to dismiss or reduce the charges against you. An experienced West Palm Beach criminal defense attorney can assess the facts of your situation to determine whether the police conducted an illegal search and seizure. Call 561-533-1221, or contact me through my online form. My two offices are located in West Palm Beach and in Palm Beach Gardens near I-95 and PGA Boulevard. I accept credit cards.