How can the exclusionary rule help me in my drug crimes case?

On behalf of Brian D. Roman, Attorney at Law on Thursday, July 30, 2015.

If you have been arrested for drug crimes in Massachusetts, you need to know that law enforcement officials must observe your Fourth Amendment rights as provided under the Constitution. Your Fourth Amendment rights protect you from unreasonable search and seizure of your person, property and effects. Without getting too complicated, this is the requirement for police to have probable cause that a crime has been committed, or in the process of being committed, prior to arresting you. This law also requires police to observe particular rules when obtaining and executing search warrants.

The Exclusionary Rule is a legal concept that stands for the idea that evidence police seize as a result of an unlawful search and seizure must be excluded from those items that may be used to prove your guilt in a crime. In other words, prosecutors cannot use evidence against you that police have seized in violation of your Fourth Amendment protections.

A good example of how the exclusionary rule might work sometimes occurs during traffic stops. A police officer who pulls you over for a broken tail light does not automatically gain the authority to search your glove compartment without first having a reasonable suspicion to believe that a crime has occurred.

You also need to know that retaining a criminal defense attorney with experience in Massachusetts search and seizure procedures can be extremely beneficial to your case. This is because invoking your right to suppress certain pieces of evidence is not automatic. Typically, an attorney representing you at pretrial hearing will have filed a motion to suppress evidence with the court in advance. A judge will hear testimony about your arrest and determine whether or not to prevent the admission of that evidence for use against you in court.

Although each case is different, it may be worth your while to have an attorney review the circumstances of your drug crimes arrest and determine whether a motion to suppress evidence may be warranted. In some cases, prosecutors will choose to dismiss certain charges against you if they are not permitted to use key pieces of evidence to prove your guilt.

Source: National Paralegal College, "The Exclusionary Rule," accessed July 30, 2015