Constitutional Issues in DC Drug Possession Cases 

In many drug possession cases, the prosecution’s evidence may be the result of a search of a person’s body, their vehicle, and sometimes their house. In every case, the search of a person’s private possessions must be made pursuant to a search warrant or be one of the many exceptions that exist to the search warrant requirement. There are so many exceptions that were carved out over several decades that most drug possession cases are not prosecuted pursuant to a search warrant.

In most situations, prosecutors know there are some exceptions to the search warrant requirement that allows the police to conduct a search of a person’s body, vehicle, or home without needing a warrant. It is essential that DC criminal defense lawyers understand the limitations of those exceptions to know whether police followed the legal and constitutional requirements associated with search warrant exceptions. As an example, if a person is driving their car and they are pulled over for a speeding infraction, police are not permitted to get the person out of the car and begin searching their vehicle based only on a speeding infraction, in most circumstances.

If you are facing charges for possession of drug charges, it is important that you know the common constitutional issues in DC drug possession cases. Because of this, it is very important that you contact a skilled drug possession lawyer, to represent you.

Searching a Car

There are rules as to when the police are allowed to search a car or a person’s body after a traffic stop. If the police see a person walking down the road, they cannot approach that person and for no reason do a pat-down search of their person. There are rules as to when the police can stop a person on the street and conduct a stop and frisk.

Important Things to Know

One thing a person should know if they are subject to such a search is that it is not in their interest to fight or argue with the police while they are conducting a search. That should be left to a lawyer who can look at the evidence and challenge the search in the appropriate court proceeding. The only thing a person who is the subject of a search needs to know is that no person is legally required to consent to a search by the police.

In many situations, police may ask a person to consent to a search after a traffic stop, at a person’s home, or if a person is walking down the street. A person is never required to consent to the search under those circumstances. One of the biggest mistakes in drug cases is people believe they are required to consent to the search or they think the police will go easier on them if they agree to a search. This is typically not the case. The reason why police ask people to consent the search is because they do not have a constitutional basis to conduct that search.

Consent to Search

Once the person consents to a search by the police, for the most part, they waive their ability to challenge that search later in a court proceeding. Once the person consents to a search, it is difficult for a lawyer representing the person to challenge that search. A person who is the subject of a search who respectfully declines to consent to the search may be searched anyway. The police may explain that they have some other basis to conduct that search. In that case, a person should step aside and assert their position that they do not consent the search.

In the event the person is arrested; their lawyer can analyze the basis for that search and determine whether the police complied with their constitutional requirements, as long as the person who is subject to a search understands their rights and obligations when they are subject to a search and asserts those rights. The authorities must justify their legal and constitutional authority to conduct the search and use any illegal items they allegedly found as result of the search.

Contact an Attorney

There are many constitutional issues that surround drug possession arrests. It is important that you know these issues if you were involved in an arrest due to possessing illegal substances. Contact a Washington DC drug lawyer attorney as soon as possible.  They can help get your charges dropped, or reduced if your constitutional rights were violated at all during the arrest, or if the violations led to your arrest.