Illegal Search & Seizure in Lansing
All citizens of Lansing have protection against illegal search and seizure as outlined in the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution (in a section also known as the Bill of Rights). The articles contained in the Bill of Rights are often considered to be the most important liberties belonging to American citizens, and at Grabel & Associates, we are proud to defend those rights, especially when it comes illegal searches and seizures involving drug charges.
Understanding when a search or seizure of your property becomes illegal is vital to creating a sustainable defense against charges of drug possession, trafficking, or other drug-related charges. Here, we have outlined what you need to know.
When Does an Investigation Become a Search?
When it comes to determining whether or not an actual search took place, Michigan courts will ask two questions. First, should you, the person whose property was in question, have expected any degree of privacy? Second, was that expectation of privacy actually reasonable? To better understand this, let's look at a few examples.
Let's say a man invites two police officers into his home. The officers are here to interview the man about his suspected drug selling activity. On the coffee table in the man's living room is a baggie of cocaine. The officers confiscate the baggie and charge the man with possession of a controlled substance.
Did an illegal search take place?
In this instance, it did not, because the officers did not step outside of their boundaries. The man invited the officers into his home of his own volition, and the baggie was in plain sight.
Now if we alter the scenario and say that the baggie was put away in a drawer in the kitchen, then this could be an illegal search. The officers did not have the right to go through the man's kitchen drawers. If we alter it even further and say that the officers were never invited inside or pointedly told to leave the man's property, any search they conducted in the man's home could be considered an illegal search.
Of course, some exceptions may apply. If officers can smell marijuana, for example, when you open your door, they have probable cause to search your home.
The property outside your home is not subject to the same protection as your home, but in certain circumstances, it can also be protected. If the man had a large fence that is not easy to see over, the law may consider it an extension of the home. This legal term is called curtilage.
Otherwise, the land outside your house is not usually considered private, even though Lansing may consider it “private property.” Furthermore, police officers can get permission from neighbors to walk on their property and circle your home. If an officer sees any drugs or paraphernalia on your property, he or she may search your property.
All searches must be legal, and an illegal search can lead to certain evidence being thrown out in court. If you think an illegal search has been conducted on your property, do not hesitate to call an associate at Grabel & Associates. We have worked extensively with this area of law, and we want to see your rights protected.
What is a Search Warrant?
If a police officer knocks on your door and insists you let him in, you can deny him entry unless he has a search warrant with him. A search warrant is a legal document signed by a judge that gives a police officer the right to come into your home and search it.
In order to get a search warrant, police officers need to prove that they have probable cause or reason to suspect that you are hiding drugs, manufacturing them, or are in some way connected with illegal substances. They can get probable cause in a number of different ways. For example, they might have a sworn testimony from a neighbor who saw you sell drugs on your front porch or a complaint from a neighbor who smelled marijuana. Officers who see, smell, or hear something suspicious on your property, such as someone screaming "help," can also use that as probable cause to enter your property.
Search warrants and what is considered probable cause is a somewhat murky area of law, and it is not always easy to tell a lawful search warrant from an unlawful one. The associates at Grabel & Associates are well versed in the legalities of search warrants and probable causes; so do not feel as if you have no power against a search. Our associates will help you fight for your rights.
Contact Grabel & Associates
Your right to private property was laid down in law over 200 years ago in the U.S. Constitution's Bill of Rights. At Grabel & Associates, we work hard to honor that bill and all the freedoms and rights it protects, including illegal search and seizure.
If your rights have been violated, contact Grabel & Associates. Our team of skilled and aggressive attorneys will work closely with you to defend against any illegal search and seizure and make sure that no evidence obtained in these searches ever makes it to the courtroom. Contact us by phone at our toll-free number 1-800-342-7896 or online here.