Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights guarantee the right against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government, including the police. When law enforcement obtains evidence against a person by violating these constitutional rights, state and federal courts must usually suppress or “throw out” the illegally-obtained evidence. This legal doctrine, known as the “exclusionary rule,” was created to deter law enforcement from violating the constitutional rights of the people they are sworn to protect. In many cases, winning a motion to suppress leads to a complete dismissal of the charges. If you are charged with a crime and believe the police illegally searched for and seized evidence, you need an experienced criminal defense attorney to vindicate your constitutional rights.
Boston Search and Seizure Attorney David J. Grimaldi has successfully defended the rights of numerous clients who have suffered illegal searches by law enforcement. He has won many motions to suppress evidence, including motions to suppress drugs, paraphernalia, money, firearms, ammunition, cell phones, computers, and various other types of property and information. He has successfully challenged police searches in nearly every context, including searches of his clients’ bodies, clothes, homes, cars, and electronic devices. Attorney Grimaldi knows how to cross-examine police officers effectively and argue before judges that evidence must be suppressed. By winning suppression of the evidence, Attorney Grimaldi has won dismissal of many charges for his clients.
A general rule of search and seizure law is that before searching a person’s body, home, or other location bearing a reasonable expectation of privacy, the police must first obtain a search warrant from a judge or magistrate supported by probable cause. The law recognizes a “narrow class of exceptions” to this rule, however, and many motions to suppress focus on whether a recognized exception applies in a particular case. Some exceptions to the warrant requirement include consent searches, searches incident to lawful arrest, inventory searches, plain view seizures, exigent circumstances, and searches at roadblocks. Further, traffic stops that transform into full-blown searches have their own array of special rules. The mere fact that a prosecutor claims an exception to the warrant requirement, of course, is not enough to render the search legitimate. In Massachusetts, the burden is on the prosecution to prove that a warrantless search was justified, and the best defense attorneys will always seek to establish that the warrantless search was unconstitutional.
Even when the police have obtained a search warrant, however, there are many cases in which the court must later suppress the evidence. For instance, sometimes search warrants are issued without establishing probable cause that evidence will be found. To establish probable cause, a search warrant applicant must provide a sworn affidavit containing sufficient facts to determine that the items sought are related to criminal activity and may presently be located in the place to be searched. The applicant must also particularly describe the places to be searched and items to be seized, as well as establish a nexus between the alleged criminal activity and the particular location. Many times, however, the information provided in the affidavit is weak, stale, or too general to satisfy probable cause, and in such cases suppression is often required.
In some cases, the police rely on a confidential informant to apply for a warrant. These cases involve special considerations since informants are typically accused of their own crimes and are working with the police to earn a reduction in their sentence. Sometimes the police even pay informants for information. Because their personal interest in the outcome is so strong, confidential informants often have motives to lie about others to get what they want. Accordingly, the bar to establish probable cause through a confidential informant is higher than a warrant obtained through other means, and the best defense attorneys must know how to successfully address the specific issues presented by an informant-based search warrant.
There are also cases where police officers make false or misleading statements in support of search warrant applications. In these cases, the court may conduct special hearings, often called Amral and Franks hearings, which could also lead to suppression of the evidence. The most accomplished defense attorneys know how to establish that statements by the police were false and argue for suppression of the illegally obtained evidence.
Boston Search and Seizure Attorney David J. Grimaldi has the proven experience and ability to defend your rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. He has won suppression of evidence in courts throughout Massachusetts, and he is committed to achieving the absolute best possible results for his clients. If the police searched for and seized evidence in your case, contact Attorney Grimaldi at (617) 661-1529 or online today.
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