You want an experienced Indiana defense lawyer to represent you in defending against drug or handgun charges, especially one skilled in finding weaknesses in the State’s case. If you have been charged with a drug or handgun crime, there are several important issues that a criminal attorney with experience in Indiana drug and handgun defense can identify and analyze for the benefit of your defense.
Key Factors in Indiana Drug and Handgun Defense
An experienced Indiana defense lawyer will make sure that the police followed the law throughout the interactions and process leading to your drug or handgun charges. If the police did not follow the law, then the drug and handgun evidence can be suppressed by the court, in which case it could not be used by the prosecutor. Essentially, the evidence would be tossed by the judge.
Indiana drug and handgun defense often takes a close look at law enforcement conduct related to search and seizure. Even slight mistakes or shortcuts taken by police may result in related evidence being unusable in court—but only if the situation is identified and challenged by your defense attorney.
Fourth Amendment Protections against Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States protects people from unreasonable search and seizure by the police. The analysis of a search and seizure issue involves, in part, determining whether there has been a search or seizure.
When search and seizure are confirmed in Indiana, the next step in Indiana drug and handgun defense is for your attorney to identify if those actions were taken appropriately under federal and state law. For example, in Indiana, officers must give anyone who is being taken into police custody notice of their Miranda rights as well as Indiana’s Pirtle warning.
Search and Seizure in Indiana
Was There a Search?
If the police or other law enforcement officers inspected you, your vehicle, your house, your building, or any items in your possession, then there was a search entitling you to the Fourth Amendment protections. If the police had a search warrant, then your defenses are limited; however, there are still possible arguments to invalidate the search warrant. If law enforcement conducted a warrantless search, then we must continue the analysis of whether there was a seizure by law enforcement.
Was There a Seizure of Person?
A person has been seized if it would be reasonable for a person in that situation to believe he or she was not free to leave. A seizure of person can occur by the following means:
- An arrest, which requires probable cause that you have committed a crime; or
- An investigative stop, which requires reasonable suspicion that criminal activity has happened or is imminent.
Your Constitutional Rights and Indiana’s Pirtle Warning
Whether you have been subject to a search or seizure in your case is significant because those situations trigger specific constitutional rights. If you are seized by the police, then you are considered to be in police custody. Once you are in police custody, you have specific rights under the Fifth and Sixth Amendments to the Constitution.
Under the Fifth Amendment, you have the right to remain silent. Just like on television, the police must advise you of your Miranda rights: that you have the right to remain silent, and anything that you say can and will be used against you in court.
Under the Sixth Amendment, individuals in police custody have the right to an attorney. In the case of Pirtle v. State of Indiana, the decision of the Indiana Supreme Court resulted in additional protections and the requirement that officers issue individuals the Pirtle warning as well as the federally required Miranda warning. The Pirtle warning advises that you have the right for an attorney to be present during any search of an item in your possession, whether that item is you, your vehicle, your house, your building, or any items in your possession.
Reasonable Search and Indiana Drug and Handgun Defense
In order for a search of your person or property to be admissible in a legal case against you, the search must be considered reasonable under the law. There are two main types of searches that defendants facing drug or handgun charges need to be aware of: search incident to arrest and inventory search.
Search Incident to Arrest
After you are under arrest, the police can search you and your clothing. If you are in a vehicle, the police can also search anything within your reach while in the vehicle. In Arizona v. Gant, the Supreme Court of the United States stated that a police search must be limited to the areas of the vehicle that are within the suspect’s reach unless the officer has reason to believe there is evidence in the vehicle that is related to the basis for arrest.
An inventory search is a search of a vehicle that is going to be towed by the police. Towing a vehicle falls under the police’s “caretaking” function for those they protect and serve. An inventory search is governed by the local police department’s tow policy. When you face Indiana drug or handgun charges, you need an experienced Indiana defense lawyer who knows these local policies and can analyze whether the proper police procedure and policy were followed.
Find Your Experienced Indiana Defense Lawyer at Camden & Meridew, P.C.
If the police did not follow the law and use appropriate search and seizure procedure, then the drug and handgun evidence in your case can be thrown out of court and could not be used against you. Only an experienced Indiana defense lawyer will know and thoroughly understand the law and how to apply it to your Indiana drug and handgun defense. You will find that criminal defense attorney at Camden & Meridew, P.C. Contact the firm today to schedule a consultation by calling 317-770-0000 or completing this online contact form.