New Mexico residents should be able to trust that law enforcement will conduct themselves appropriately and within the boundaries of their authority. Unfortunately, this is not always the case, and you could be someone who experienced a violation of his or her constitutional rights. Your Fourth Amendment rights are particularly important if you find yourself facing a situation that involves a search and seizure of your property.
This amendment to the constitution protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures conducted by law enforcement. If you suspect this happened to you, it could affect the prosecution’s case against you. You have the right to challenge any illegally gained evidence and fight for the best possible outcome to your case.
Understanding your rights
There are circumstances in which law enforcement can conduct a search of personal property during a criminal investigation. However, there are strict limits regarding when they can search and what they can do with any evidence found. The following may help you understand your Fourth Amendment rights:
- In most cases, law enforcement must have a warrant to enter personal property and conduct a search. The warrant outlines where they can search and specifies the intent of the search.
- To get a warrant, law enforcement must prove there is probable cause to conduct a search in that specific location.
- Police must be careful to conduct the search within the parameters listed in the warrant. Violating the terms of the warrant could invalidate certain evidence found.
- An illegal search happens when there is a search without permission, a valid warrant or probable cause to believe illegal activity occurred.
- Police can only search in places listed in the warrant, but they may gather evidence if it is in plain sight. They may also prevent the destruction of evidence.
An illegal search or seizure of evidence is a blatant disregard of your Fourth Amendment rights. You have the right to move to have this evidence dismissed, which could compromise the entire case brought by the prosecution. When you know your rights, you will be in a better position to protect your interests in the event you are under investigation for alleged criminal activity. A close look at your case and the conduct of law enforcement involved in the investigation can help you understand your legal options.