If you have been arrested for drug charges in South Carolina, one of the first facts your defense needs to consider is whether police legally obtained the evidence. Many drug charge cases obtain their evidence through police search and seizure, and both state and federal law places limitations on that police procedure.
Some drug charges occur after police obtain a search warrant to examine your property. The U.S. Constitution allows police to search your property and seize evidence if they obtain a search warrant first.
However, law enforcement obtaining a warrant does not make the search legal. In some cases, the warrant itself may not be legally binding.
For the search warrant to qualify legally, it must meet the following conditions:
- Police must demonstrate why they think you have committed a crime.
- Judge must agree with the assessment.
- Police must provide accurate and true information in the warrant.
If the warrant fails to pass any of these conditions, the search may be deemed illegal. The court may dismiss any evidence found in such a search.
Search and seizure without a warrant
Many criminal drug possession charges occur after a police search without a warrant. The most common instances happen during traffic stops. After pulling you over, the police officer cannot search your vehicle for drugs unless one of the following conditions occur:
- You displayed the drugs or paraphernalia in plain sight.
- The police officer smells, sees or hears something in the vehicle to give them probable cause to believe it contains drugs.
- Police officer arrests you for intoxication.
Your rights to legal search and seizure
Both the U.S. Constitution and the state of South Carolina offer you protection from illegal searches and seizures. Although the requirements may sound complicated, ensuring that each search and seizure was conducted legally may reduce or eliminate your drug charges.