Constitutional Issues in DC Drug Cases

When you or a loved one are facing charges, be sure to understand your rights when it comes to constitutional issues in DC drug cases. An experienced lawyer can help you do just that. Often, those accused are not necessarily aware of their rights when it comes to interactions with law enforcement officers. The situation can be intimidating, and a person may not know what actions they are and are not legally required to agree to.

Search Warrant Rights

Constitutional issues surrounding police searches are relevant in drug cases in many situations. Often, police officers conduct searches based on various constitutional and legal theories that permit them to conduct a search without a search warrant.

However, the US Constitution requires the police to obtain a search warrant before searching a person, private property, or a private home. Over the course of many decades, courts shifted away in that constitutional requirement and created a significant number of exceptions. Nonetheless, these exceptions are fairly specific. When the police conduct a search without a warrant, it must be consistent with one of these constitutional exceptions.

The number of exceptions can be overwhelming. Lawyers can spend years learning and understanding the various situations where police are legally allowed to conduct searches of a person, their private property, their home, or their vehicle without a warrant. Having a lawyer who understands all these constitutional issues is absolutely vital.

Common Scenarios And Faulty Reasoning

One issue in many drug situations is when a person consents to the police searching their person, their vehicle, their property, or their home. This is always problematic for defense lawyers. When a police officer asks a person if they can conduct a search and the person gives permission, they have for the most part, waived all constitutional challenges to that search.

The search is considered lawful in almost every situation. Many people believe that when they know they have an illegal substance and they agree to let the police search them, the police may be more lenient on them. That is usually not the case when a police officer asks a person if they can conduct a search and they do not have any other lawful basis to conduct that search.

Even if a person does not think they have anything on their person or in their car, it can be a bad idea to consent to a search. The person does not necessarily know, for example, if a different occupant of their car placed something under the seat without their knowledge.

There may be a number of situations in which a drug or a controlled substance could be on or near a person without their knowledge. In every situation when a police officer asks a person whether they can conduct a search, that person always has the right to refuse the search. The suspect can be polite but firm about it.

Necessary Legal Basis

When a person does not consent to a search, the police need some other legal basis to conduct the search. This legal basis must be a clearly delineated constitutional exception to the warrant requirements. If the police officer conducts the search and cannot show at a trial or hearing that the search was lawful and consistent with the constitution, defense counsel can then argue to suppress that evidence and not have it used for trial.

When To Contact An Attorney

When a person is charged with this type of offense, it is essential for them to be aware of constitutional issues in DC drug cases. To make sure they are informed of all their legal rights, they should contact an attorney at the earliest available opportunity. When someone is arrested, before saying anything to the police or answering any questions, they should inform the police that they would like to speak first with a lawyer.

The police may not let the person speak to an attorney right away. However, the fact of notifying the police that they would like to speak with an attorney before answering any question can make the difference between accidentally incriminating themselves and successfully defending themselves later in the case.

If they are assertive about that right and their desire to not answer any questions without an attorney present, they put themselves in a strong legal position to challenge the case later. At the earliest available opportunity, they should start calling lawyers to discuss their options, the facts of the case, any potential constitutional issues in DC drug cases, as well as discuss possible scenarios for defending against the allegations to obtain the best possible outcome to the case.