There is no question that criminal arrests vary from case to case. But every defendant is entitled to certain protections under the law. And in many cases, the defendant (the person arrested or charged with a crime) may be entitled to raise any number of applicable defenses. Such defenses may address the manner in which the investigation was conducted, while others may actually negate an element of the crime. The facts and circumstances surrounding the arrest are often a crucial part of a case against someone. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to ensure that your rights are protected from the very beginning.
When a defendant believes that evidence was discovered illegally or without a proper search warrant, he or she may make a motion in court to suppress the evidence discovered during that search. A suppression hearing will be held to determine whether or not the police conducted a lawful search. In a recent case, the court of special appeals denied the defendant’s motion to suppress evidence, concluding that the officers were justified in conducting a warrantless search of the defendant’s vehicle. In this case, the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s house for evidence related to drugs and other paraphernalia. The officers had been watching the defendant’s home and later followed the defendant as he and another person got into a car and drove to a grocery store. The defendant was in the passenger seat.
The officer testified that he knew there was an “open arrest” warrant for the defendant for second-degree assault. As the defendant exited the grocery store and attempted to get in to the passenger side of the vehicle, the officers stopped and handcuffed him. They searched him and found some money and a baggie containing crack cocaine. They drove to the police station, where the officers conducted a search of the vehicle and found a black revolver. The defendant moved to suppress the evidence, arguing that the warrantless search of the car was unlawful under applicable case law, since he was arrested for assault, not for a drug offense.
The court denied his motion, and the defendant was ultimately convicted of possession with intent to distribute cocaine, possession of cocaine, and possession of a regulated firearm after being convicted of a disqualifying offense. Defendant appealed, arguing (among other things) that the court erred in denying his motion to suppress evidence. The Maryland court of special appeals affirmed the decision, concluding that the warrantless search of the vehicle was not unlawful. Under applicable law, searches without a warrant are “per se” unreasonable under the Fourth Amendment, subject to certain identifiable exceptions, such as “a search incident to a lawful arrest.” Here, the court found that the arresting officers could have reasonably believed that the car contained evidence of the cocaine possession offense that the defendant was arrested for. Therefore, any evidence found in the car was deemed admissible at trial.
Criminal cases are extremely fact-specific. Preparing a solid defense requires a thorough examination of the evidence and the manner in which it was procured. Such intricate details can serve to support a strong defense in a criminal matter. Seeking the counsel of an experienced Maryland criminal defense attorney is one of the most effective ways to approach any criminal investigation. If you are arrested or charged with a crime, our office will work diligently to develop the best strategy to defend your case. Contact us at 301-519-2801 or via our online form.
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