A Criminal Defense Attorney in Conroe, TX Explains
When you are facing charges, one of the most critical things your criminal defense attorney needs to do is stop bogus, illegally collected "evidence" and arguments from making it to trial.
This means hiring an attorney who understands how to fight illegal search and seizures.
The Webb Firm is an established Conroe-based criminal defense law firm with a reputation for tearing down weak and illegal evidence. We have written up answers to some of the most common questions our attorneys get about Texas search and seizure.
The information is general and may not apply to your unique situation. For information on how the law applies specifically to you, contact us for a free case evaluation.
Illegal Search and Seizure FAQ
What is a warrant and why do the police need one to search my home or vehicle?
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution prevents illegal search and seizure.
"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall be issued, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized."
As part of this protection, if law enforcement wants to conduct a search they need to get the court's permission (a warrant) to do so.
There are four components to a valid search warrant:
- It was applied for in good faith by the officer
- The request for a warrant must be backed by reliable information or probable cause
- The warrant was issued by a neutral member of the justice system
- A warrant must state, specifically, the place to be searched, things to be seized, and offense committed
If a warrant does not meet all of these standards, it is almost certainly illegal.
Can Police Conduct a Search Without a Warrant?
Yes. Police almost always need a warrant to search your property, but under specific circumstances, they can go ahead without court approval.
Exemptions that allow for a search and seizure without a warrant include:
- Suspicious items are left in plain view
- Protective sweep
- Search for additional contraband that, as a result of the initial search, is believed to be elsewhere on the property
- To stop the imminent destruction of evidence or an escaping suspect
- To stop violence or respond to a victim
- Hot pursuit of a violent suspect (applies in some, but not all situations)
What Happens to Evidence From an Illegal Search and Seizure?
Illegally gathered evidence often makes it to trial unless someone challenges its legitimacy. This task often falls to your criminal defense lawyer.
This is why it is important to have an attorney who understands how the justice system operates and the types of arguments judges and juries need to hear.
If your lawyer is successful, the evidence collected in an illegal search cannot be used against you to support charges or convictions — usually.
In Texas, even illegally confiscated items can be used in a trial if a judge finds that discovery of the evidence was "inevitable," or only a matter of time.
How Do I Fight an Illegal Search and Seizure?
Do not try to physically stop law enforcement from searching and seizing property. Illegal searches are typically fought after charges are filed.
If you suspect you are experiencing an illegal search, ask to see a copy of the warrant, make sure that the address and scope of the search are correct. It is important that you clearly, and as calmly as possible, communicate that you do not consent to the search.
It is hard to be polite when your rights are being violated right in front of you, but try to stay calm and contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible to learn your legal rights and options.
Legal Help is Available in Montgomery County
If you are facing criminal charges in Texas, you should consult with a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. The penalties in the Lone Star State are stiff, and the justice system is hard on people suspected of crimes.
At The Webb Firm, P.C., attorney Amanda Webb and her dedicated legal team know how to stand strong against aggressive prosecutors. Attorney Webb uses her years of experience as a prosecutor to help defendants get the outcome they deserve.
If you're in Montgomery County and believe you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure, schedule a free consultation with our law firm to see how an experienced Conroe, TX criminal defense attorney can help.
We're available 24/7. Contact us today.