Last week's blog post mentioned weapons charges ensuing a search of the accused's home. It is important for Maryland residents to understand the search and seizure rules in order to ensure their constitutional rights are not infringed upon. When they are, they may be able to challenge the felony gun charges levied against them.
As per the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, police can engage in reasonable search and seizures, but the question is, what is reasonable? Police need to demonstrate that it is more probable that a crime has occurred and if authorities conduct this search, they may find evidence or stolen goods of the crime. This is known as probable cause. At times, the police may obtain a warrant to search a suspect's premises, but it is also possible to conduct a search warrantless, depending on the situation.
If there is a warrant that specifies exactly which areas can be searched, the authorities may still be able to extend the area beyond that specified if it is necessary to ensure the safety of others or to prevent to the destruction of evidence, among other instances. The police cannot perform a warrantless search where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy and cannot use evidence obtained from an illegal search against someone.
Being accused of committing a crime is a serious allegation and when accompanied by weapons charges, the consequences can be even greater. It is essential for Maryland residents to know their rights so they can ensure they are being protected if a search is being conducted of their premises. If they are infringed upon, they should consider consulting a criminal law attorney for guidance on how to assert their rights.
Source: FindLaw, "Searches and seizures: The limitations of the police," Accessed on July 5, 2016