The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects Louisiana residents from "unreasonable" search and seizure, but courts tend to give police a lot of leeway in terms of what kinds of searches count as reasonable. The issue of unreasonable search comes up often when Louisiana residents face drug charges.
Recently, two people were arrested in Gonzales after police said they received complaints that someone was selling drugs out of their home. Police searched the home and said they found numerous prescription drugs, along with heroin, cocaine and marijuana.
The prohibition on unreasonable search means that police generally must have a warrant before they can search a person's home, although there are many exceptions to that requirement. To get a warrant, the police must show a court that they have probable cause to believe that they will find evidence of a crime in the search. An anonymous tip can sometimes be enough to convince some courts that the police have probable cause.
However, if a court finds that police overstepped their authority during the search, the evidence the police gathered typically cannot be used in trial. For cases involving possession, intent to distribute and other drug offenses, the drugs seized in a search are usually the main evidence against the defendant. When that evidence is suppressed, the prosecution is left without much of a case.
All Louisiana residents accused of drug crimes deserve a defense. For some, the best way to build a strong defense is to start looking at the circumstances of the search that led to the arrest.
Source: The Advocate, "Two booked in Gonzales on drug charges," April 23, 2014