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Privacy and search warrants in relation to drug charges

If you or a loved one has been arrested and accused of a drug crime, there are often many questions the accused and their family has. For a person to be accused of a drug crime they usually are accused of being in possession of, or under the influence of, illicit drugs. For law enforcement to determine if that is the case usually requires some level of search and/or seizure. There are laws pertaining to search warrant requirements that should be upheld during this activity by law enforcement.

Because of our constitutional rights, specifically the 4th Amendment, search and seizure must be conducted in a specific way. Search and seizure must be reasonable. Either the search and seizure meets probable cause requirements per a judge's determination or a specific situation occurred which justified the search and seizure. Privacy is determined on a case by case basis and if a reasonable person would expect privacy in the location they or their property was searched without a warrant, they may have a case for illegal search and seizure.

However, private places are quickly becoming harder and harder to find. Generally, a person's home is the only place of privacy with vehicles being driven on public roads and the public's well-being often a top-concern in public places. Items in plain site (i.e. in the center console of a person's vehicle during a routine traffic stop) have little if any claim to privacy since it was sitting in plain site. Same goes for evidence obtained from a person's front yard, as it was set outside for any and all to see.

For now, search and seizure is still protected by the 4th Amendment. This generally covers a person's private property and requires a search warrant. Otherwise, a case for probable cause may have been granted in the events leading up to a home search and seizure. The details really matter in these situations. If you or a loved one are unsure if the search and seizure relating to drug charges was legal, it's wise to look into it.

Source:, "Search Warrant Requirements," Accessed March 13, 2018

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