Search, Seizure, and Suppression in Pennsylvania

Search Seizure SuppressionProsecutors are not permitted to introduce evidence which was obtained after an illegal search and seizure of property. If the court finds that the evidence was obtained illegally, it must suppress the evidence, meaning that the evidence cannot be used against the defendant. The basic thing here is don’t make it overly easy for an officer to obtain illegal evidence on you. Make them do their job, and follow the rules.

In order for the police to have legal justification to search a person’s home, vehicle or person, they must have a search warrant, establish that exigent circumstances exit (the evidence will disappear by the time they get a warrant), that the search is necessary to protect the officer’s safety, or that the defendant has given permission to search.

Search and seizure most often arises in drug cases when the prosecutors have drugs or paraphernalia and the defense is trying to keep the evidence out of court. If the police have a search warrant or search due to exigent circumstances, it is the responsibility of defense counsel to challenge the legality of the evidence. The other two basis are within the control of the person against whom a search is being sought. If the police have no basis to fear for their safety, they cannot search your person or the area within your reach.

Do not give the officers reason to fear for their safety by reaching in pockets, under car seats, or under couch cushions. Most importantly, do not give officers permission to search.

Throughout my career clients have told me that the officer told them that if the client didn’t give them permission, they would just get a search warrant. My response is, “Let them get a warrant!” It is more likely that a warrant can be overturned than a permissive search will be deemed illegal.

Force the police to do their job.

Force them to go to a magistrate and present sufficient evidence to establish probable cause to search. Do not ever give police permission to search. It makes suppression of the evidence much less likely.

Posted on December 17, 2012, in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Comments Off on Search, Seizure, and Suppression in Pennsylvania.

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