This is the next post in my series on the handling of drug trafficking cases in Phoenix, Arizona. My last post provided an overview of topics which this series will address and also stressed the need to immediately call an attorney if you have been charged. Drug trafficking offenses are aggressively pursued by prosecutors and it is crucial that you have representation. In this article I will discuss common search and seizure issues which arise in such matters.
I have previously discussed how search and seizure issues impact cases of methamphetamine possession. The same constitutional protections apply to drug trafficking cases. It is important to understand that police cannot stop you simply because they feel you “do not look right” or because they “have a hunch” that you may be committing a crime. Under Terry v. Ohio an officer may only stop a person on the street, or pull over their vehicle, if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is engaging in criminal activity. A Court will only find that law enforcement had reasonable suspicion if the officer can articulate specific facts which, based on their training and experience, gave them reason to believe that some sort of crime was occurring. If the police stop and search you or your vehicle without reasonable suspicion then it may be possible to have any evidence they discover excluded from court proceedings.
The process of challenging an illegal search begins with the filing of a Motion. This is a formal document in which the defense attorney will state the facts of the case and why it is that law enforcement’s conduct violated the defendant’s constitutional rights. The prosecution will file an opposition to the Motion and the defendant will be given an opportunity to reply to that opposition. An evidentiary hearing will be held at which the police will testify in regards to the stop and your attorney will have the chance to examine them. After the Court has heard the evidence it will issue a decision as to whether or not your rights were violated. If the Court rules that the prosecution may not introduce the drugs at trial then any drug trafficking charges would be dismissed.
Search and seizure issues make up one of the more complicated areas of criminal law. The Fourth Amendment, which guarantees a citizen their rights against the Police, has many nuances. When selecting a criminal defense lawyer it is important that you choose counsel who has experience in handling such matters and who quickly file the necessary Motions with the Court.
I am a Phoenix defense attorney who strongly believes that everyone is entitled to the most aggressive defense possible. Contact my office today if you have been charged with drug trafficking. I also we service Maricopa County areas such as Mesa, Glendale, Scottsdale, Chandler, and Gilbert as well as Pima County residents in Tucson.