Under Columbus search and seizure laws, law enforcement officers are only allowed to conduct a search if they have a warrant or probable cause. The United States Constitution affords all Americans the right to live free of unwarranted searches and seizures. This vital aspect of our democracy allows people to live in peace; they do not have to worry about random searches or having their possessions stolen in an unwarranted seizure. Unfortunately, this idealized vision of privacy in America is not always respected. Often, if police officers have a hunch that a crime is being committed, they will conduct searches of cars, homes, and other areas.
If you have been charged with a crime, you may be worried about what could happen if you are found guilty. You may have to quit your job, and you may not know how your family will survive if you are incarcerated. Our Columbus criminal defense lawyers at Luftman, Heck & Associates have helped countless people get their charges reduced or dismissed. Our dedicated legal team will guide you through every step of the legal process, from crafting a defense to negotiating plea agreements.
To learn more about Columbus search and seizure laws and how an attorney can help you avoid jailtime, fines or other consequences, call (614) 500-3836 today.
What Makes a Search Legal?
According to the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA), most searches and seizures require a search warrant, or at least the suspicion that a crime is being committed. However, there are a number of exceptions to this rule. In other words, searches without a warrant do not necessarily a violate your constitutional rights.
Exceptions to search and seizure requirements include, but are not limited to:
- Unknowingly consenting to a search. This might involve innocently inviting an officer in for a glass of water or telling them that they can open your car’s tailgate.
- Entering the premises after a hot pursuit, such as when a thief is trying to outrun police by returning home or by operating a vehicle.
- When the safety of law enforcement personnel are in danger. Imagine, for example, that a person is shooting police officers from their bedroom window. In this case, police may enter the home in order to neutralize the threat.
- After a person has been arrested in a valid manner. If a driver fails a breathalyzer test and is subsequently arrested, a vehicle search is legally allowed.
- When an item connected to a crime is sitting in plain view. This might involve drugs sitting on a passenger seat, or a deadly weapon that can be seen through a home window.
Car Searches in Ohio
Ohio state law does not protect cars from searches in that same way that homes are protected. An officer simply needs probable cause to conduct a vehicle search. Probable cause is a piece of evidence or a strong suspicion that indicates that a crime has been or will be committed. If for example, a driver is pulled over and is found to have severely bloodshot eyes, the officer may feel inclined to search the vehicle for marijuana. While police tend to have free rein when it comes to vehicle searches, their rights are not unlimited. Pointing out misconduct can be key to securing your freedom.
How Luftman, Heck & Associates Can Help You After Search and Seizures in Columbus
If you have been arrested for a crime based on evidence that was obtained in a police search, it may be possible to prove that misconduct took place. In many cases, the prosecution relies on evidence that was obtained during a search and seizure. If it can be proven that a vehicle or home search was conducted illegally, it may be possible to get your charges reduced or dismissed. What constitutes an illegal search and seizure? One common police violation is simply conducting a search without a warrant and without probable cause.
In many criminal cases, especially those related to drugs, a home or vehicle search may be an essential element of the prosecution’s case. If the evidence obtained can be suppressed, it is very likely that your charges will be reduced or eliminated completely. At Luftman, Heck & Associates, our skilled Columbus criminal defense attorneys have extensive experience in defending good people against criminal accusations. Whether it involves getting evidence thrown out or launching an investigation, we will not stop fighting for you.
Call (614) 500-3836 now to receive a free legal consultation for your case and learn how Columbus search and seizure laws may help you.