New York prosecutors file charges against defendants after reviewing the evidence. When evidence points to guilt, a prosecutor might have a strong case. However, the defense could bring up questions about the evidence’s admissibility in court. Law enforcement officials might obtain evidence illegally, but the evidence may never make its way to the court record.
Legal and illegal searches and seizures
The United States Constitution provides protections against unreasonable searches and seizures. Therefore, police officers and other law enforcement officials must follow established constitutional law when procuring evidence.
In many instances, the police need a warrant to perform a search of someone’s home or property. Exceptions exist, but if the situation does not involve an exception, the police likely need a warrant.
Exemptions may include situations where the police see someone committing a crime and the evidence is in plain view, such as someone using and selling drugs in public. The police might arrest someone for assault and search the person’s pockets during the arrest. The police may then find an illegal handgun on the suspect, leading to more charges.
Illegal searches and consequences
If a warrant was necessary, any evidence obtained without a warrant could be suppressed. Even when a warrant is not necessary, probable cause is. The police cannot randomly search people or their property without a valid reason. Any evidence obtained from an arrest lacking probable cause may face a motion to suppress.
Establishing an illegal search and seizure might not be enough to dismiss the charges. There could be other evidence and charges. For example, eyewitness testimony and video footage could be admissible even if further evidence is not.
Suspects may benefit from understanding their right to remain silent. A suspect could give the police incriminating statements that haunt them even if a motion to suppress other evidence works.