This is the next post in my series on the handling of methamphetamine charges in the Phoenix area. My last article discussed why Arizona treats cases involving methamphetamine differently from those involving other drugs. In this article, I will discuss an important topic – how search and seizure issues impact such cases. I say this is an important because, as with many other drug charges, the result often depends on whether a Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. It is important to note, however, that even in cases where search and seizure issues are not present that one may still have a viable defense in the case. If you are facing such charges, then it is important that you retain an attorney immediately.
Methamphetamine related offenses often hinge on whether a Defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated
Many drug-related cases hinge on whether a defendant’s Fourth Amendment right against unreasonable search and seizure was violated. Methamphetamine related matters are no different. The reason for this is that if one’s rights were violated, and narcotics were found as a result of the violation, then a criminal defense attorney can request that the drugs not be introduced at trial. The prosecution cannot prove a drug case without drugs so excluding the narcotics means an effective end to the prosecution. This is why hiring an attorney, who is familiar with Fourth Amendment law, is critical to your defense.
Whether or not Phoenix police violated your rights can be a complicated question as search and seizure law is very fact specific. As a general principle, the police may not stop a person on the street unless they have “reasonable suspicion” that such a person is engaging in criminal activity. An officer will have a reasonable suspicion if the facts that they observe combined with their training and experience, justify a belief that someone is breaking the law. If an officer stops someone without first having reasonable suspicion, and methamphetamine is found, then that evidence is considered the “fruit” of an illegal search. Your attorney may then file a Motion To Suppress which demands that such evidence not be permitted in Court proceedings.
Phoenix residents charged with methamphetamine possession may have additional defenses even if search and seizure issues are not present
One may have other defenses even if search and seizure issues are not an issue in their case. It is up to the prosecution to prove guilt. This means that the state has the burden of showing that a defendant knowingly and intentionally possessed the drug. This is not always as clear cut an issue as one may think. Also, the state has the burden of properly preserving evidence for trial. From time to time issues arise in the “chain of evidence” and drugs may become inadmissible as a result. It is important that your lawyer explore all of these options. In addition to Phoenix, we service Maricopa County areas such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert as well as Pima County residents in Tucson.