In New Hampshire and across the country, constitutional protections exist. For example, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects against unlawful searches and seizures. It is important to understand what this means in connection with an investigation or arrest or when someone is facing criminal charges. Many criminal defense attorneys challenge evidence as inadmissible when it appears that a violation of Fourth Amendment rights has occurred.
Some people mistakenly believe that this constitutional amendment prohibits all warrantless searches, but that’s not true. There are occasions when law enforcement authorities can lawfully conduct a search without first securing a validly authorized warrant. There are several additional things to keep in mind, as well, regarding issues that are relevant to criminal defense and the Fourth Amendment.
Upon consent, a warrantless search does not violate the Fourth Amendment
If New Hampshire police ask to search a person’s vehicle, and the person consents to the request, a warrant is not needed. The same goes for a request to search a home or to search a person. If the person does not consent, and there is no viable reason why a warrantless search should be conducted, then a search or any subsequent seizure is likely to be determined a violation of that person’s Fourth Amendment rights.
Special circumstances apply at schools
When a person is under someone’s authority, such as a student who is on school property during school hours, those in authority may lawfully conduct a search if there’s a reasonable basis to suspect that evidence of a violation of law or school rules will be uncovered. These situations often occur when a principal searches someone’s locker without first notifying local law enforcement. If an arrest takes place (regardless of the location) and criminal charges are filed, an experienced criminal defense attorney can determine if there are grounds to request a dismissal or challenge evidence based on a personal rights violation.