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Search and seizure requirements affect Louisiana defendants

Louisiana residents charged with drug crimes may wonder what rights they have. While a person who has been charged with a crime has numerous legal rights, one particularly relevant right for those arrested on drug charges is one's right against unreasonable search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects United States citizens, including criminal suspects, from unreasonable search and seizure.

The underlying premise of the Fourth Amendment is the protection of an individual's privacy from unreasonable intrusions by the government into a person's home, property or physical body. These are areas in which a person has a legitimate expectation of privacy. The Fourth Amendment provides protections for where and how the police are supposed to be able to search these areas.

Generally, before a police officer searches an individual or seizes his or her property, he or she must have a valid arrest or search warrant, based on probable cause that a person has violated the law. In the event that an officer proceeds with a search or seizure without the appropriate warrant or probable cause, the search or seizure may be found to be unlawful. Evidence gathered from an unlawful search or seizure is likely to be excluded from a criminal case against an accused. Therefore, it is always very important to determine whether the police followed proper procedures in executing a search or seizure.

An attorney may be able to provide insight as to whether an illegal search and seizure might have occurred. How a police officer may proceed and what limitations he or she has may vary on a case-by-case basis. An attorney may be able to help a person charged with a drug offense craft a defense that takes into consideration any search and seizure that may have occurred.

Source: FindLaw, ""Search and Seizure" and the Fourth Amendment," accessed April 10, 2015

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