You may recall the stress and fear you felt the day Georgia police officers took you into custody on suspicion that you had committed a drug crime. Calling home to tell your family you were in jail and trying to come up with enough money to post bail may be among your worst lifetime memories. However, you understand the gravity of your situation and would now like to focus on how to build as strong a defense as possible to avoid conviction.
Building a strong defense often begins at the scene of a preliminary investigation. Police officers are not free to do and say whatever they like when they pull you over in a traffic stop or knock on your front door at home. By thinking back to the events that led to your arrest and knowing where to seek support to help you strategize before heading to court, you may be able to mitigate your circumstances.
Know your Fourth Amendment rights
The law protects you and all others in Georgia and throughout the nation from unreasonable searches and seizures. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you can challenge any evidence proffered against you if you believe the evidence acquired is in violation of your personal rights. The following list includes basic facts regarding search and seizure laws that may apply to your situation:
- If a police officer searched your vehicle, home or person without a lawfully executed warrant, you may have grounds to seek dismissal of the charges against you.
- A search warrant is a signed document the court issues that authorizes law enforcement agents to search your property, seize supposed evidence to a crime or place you under arrest.
- A police officer must have probable cause to arrest you. This means he or she must witness something or find evidence that the average person would consider suggestive of criminal activity.
- Arresting a person on probable cause requires a police officer's sworn testimony that the facts he or she reports to support a search warrant are true to the best of his or her knowledge.
- There are certain situations where police may conduct searches, seizures or arrests without a warrant.
If a police officer construes your behavior as aggressive or threatening to his or her personal safety or to the safety of the public at large, the situation may be grounds for a search, seizure or arrest to take place without a signed warrant issued from the court. It is critical that you understand your rights and know how to protect them if you hope to increase your chances of avoiding conviction when facing drug charges in a Georgia court.