Criminal defendants have definite rights with respect to searches and seizures

An Evaston man was arrested on drug charges after police executed a search warrant at him home earlier this month. The 21-year-old man was charged with possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver and four counts of possession of a controlled substance and two counts of possession of marijuana.

According to sources, officers from the Evanston Police Department obtained the search warrant using information about the alleged sale of illegal drugs. No specifics are mentioned, though sources do provide a list of the specific types and amounts of drugs found at the man's residence.

Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution criminal suspects are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. It is important, in drug cases, for defendants to realize that searches and seizures are governed by very specific rules. A search occurs whenever a law enforcement official invades a person's privacy. In general, a warrant is required for a search to take place, though there are exceptions. One exception is when evidence of a crime is found in plain view. Another is when officers have reason to believe the evidence will be destroyed

Warrants must describe the specific area that will be searched and the item or items being search for. Officers are not allowed to arbitrarily search through everything but must keep to the warrant.

Failure to abide by the various search and seizure rules can lead to exclusion of evidence from a criminal case. Without direct evidence of the crime, prosecutors are left with a weakened case.

The purpose of these various rules is to ensure privacy is respected and to prevent officers from overreaching their authority. It is critical for criminal defendants, especially those facing drug charges, to protect each and every one of their rights

Source: Chicago Tribune, "Cop: Evanston man charged with drug possession after search of home," John P. Huston, August 6, 2012

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