This is the next post in my series on the handling of drug charges in Austin, Texas. My last article provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and it also stressed the need to speak with a criminal defense attorney if you or a loved one have been charged with possessing or trafficking narcotics. It is important to speak with counsel sooner, rather than later, so that your representative may immediately begin building a defense on your behalf. In this article I will discuss another important topic – whether law enforcement potentially violated one’s rights, and committed an unlawful search and seizure, while making an arrest. If you need assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Austin police must have reasonable suspicion of criminal activity in order to stop individuals on the street
Law enforcement officials in Austin or elsewhere cannot stop an individual on the street simply because they want to. In order to detain an individual the police must have “reasonable suspicion” that the person is engaging in criminal activity. Reasonable suspicion cannot be based on a mere hunch. Instead, it must be based on objective facts which, when paired with an officer’s experience, suggest that criminal activity is either occurring or is about to occur. If the police stop someone who can be reasonably suspected of criminal activity, and evidence of a crime is discovered, then the officers may place the individual under arrest. If an individual is stopped without adequate suspicion of criminal activity, and evidence is discovered, then it may be possible to exclude such evidence from any subsequent court proceedings.
It is best to explain the concept of “reasonable suspicion” through an example. Say officers observe an individual standing on a street corner for several hours. Now say that the street corner is in a neighborhood that is known to be an area of high drug trafficking. If officers see people regularly approaching the individual then they may have reason to believe that the person is selling drugs. Under these circumstances the officers may be justified in briefly detaining the individual and investigating the matter. If, however, an individual is simply walking through such a neighborhood and is not interacting with anyone then officers would likely not be justified in stopping or detaining the individual.
Austin defendants may seek to exclude drugs that are found in violation of one’s rights
If the police violate the above principles and recover evidence then it is possible to exclude such evidence from being used in court. The first step in requesting the exclusion of illegally seized evidence is to file a motion with the Court. An evidentiary hearing will be scheduled and the defendant’s lawyer will be able to question the arresting officers. If the Judge rules that drugs were found in violation of the accused individual’s rights then, depending on the circumstances, it may lead to a dismissal of the charges. Search and seizure issues are to complicated areas of law and it is important to retain experienced counsel.
I am an Austin criminal defense attorney who has been licensed since 1995. I am certified by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization as a specialist in criminal law and I devoted my practice to defending the rights of the accused. Contact my office today to schedule an initial consultation.
My office also serves the cities of Rollingwood, Round Rock, Elgin, Jonestown, Manor, Bee Cave, Lago Vista, Sunset Valley, Lakeway, Creedmoor, Georgetown, Cedar Park, Leander, and San Marcos, Texas.