Drug Charges and the Fourth Amendment
If you are arrested on drug charges, it is important to understand your rights. In particular, members of the Muslim community in Oakbrook Terrace should have a sense of their rights under the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits illegal searches and seizures of property. Constitutional law can be extremely complicated, and you should always discuss your case with an experienced DuPage County criminal defense lawyer.
However, it is nonetheless a good idea to have a sense of when and how the Fourth Amendment can protect you in the event that you are stopped or your property is searched. For example, when you refuse to give consent, can a law enforcement official still search your car or your home? And what does it mean for a law enforcement official to have “probable cause” to stop to conduct a search of your automobile or your home?
Fourth Amendment Overview
Under the Fourth Amendment, people have the right to be “secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Cornell Legal Information Institute emphasizes that “the ultimate goal of this provision is to protect people’s right to privacy and freedom from arbitrary governmental intrusions.”
In order to determine whether the Fourth Amendment will be applicable in your drug charge case, you first have to ask whether or not there has been a search. Under Katz v. United States, unless there has been a search, Fourth Amendment protections will not apply. What do we mean when we ask whether there has been a search? In effect, this case makes clear that the Fourth Amendment protects people (as opposed to places), and it only applies in situations where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. When that reasonable expectation is violated, then we might be able to say that there has indeed been a search and that the Fourth Amendment applies. In other words, if something is in plain view, you do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Probable Cause for Search and Seizure
With that knowledge, when can the police search your home or your car for drugs? In short, if you give consent, then the police can search your home and seize any illegal items they find. This should be a lesson about giving consent. You should remember that you have a right to privacy, and you do not need to give consent to a law enforcement official who asks to search your car or your home.
If a law enforcement officer does not have consent, then she or he must have “probable cause” in order to conduct a search for drugs. Under Brinegar v. United States, probable cause must mean something more than just “bare suspicion,” but at the same time, it does not mean that a police officer needs airtight evidence of illegal drug possession. Defining probable cause can be difficult because there is not a hard and fast rule. While it is an objective standard, judges opinions can vary when it comes to determining just how much certainty a law enforcement officer must have about the likelihood of finding illegal drugs. Generally speaking, probable cause tends to mean that a police officer must be somewhat certain that she or he will find a specific item when determining that there is in fact probable cause to conduct a search.
Contact a Criminal Lawyer in DuPage County
At Farooqi & Husain Law Office, we want to ensure that members of the Muslim community are protected against illegal searches in drug offense cases. If you were charged with a drug crime after the police searched your home, you should speak with a dedicated Oakbrook Terrace criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Contact us today for more information about how we can assist with your case.