Ocean City area residents likely know that they are guaranteed certain rights under the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, but without understanding what exactly those rights entail, it might be difficult to prepare an aggressive criminal defense. Generally speaking, the Fourth Amendment protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. It is important to note the use of the term ‘unreasonable’—this means not all searches and seizures are prohibited.
What the court will review
The court balances legitimate governmental interests, like public safety, and the intruding on someone’s fourth amendment rights, when conducting a search and seizure. This is why a search and seizure in someone’s house without a warrant are considered unreasonable. However, if a police officer has received consent to search, the search is related to a lawful arrest or if there is probable cause demonstrating exigent circumstances, then a warrantless search can be legal.
If an individual is behaving unusually and a police officer may reasonably conclude that some criminal activity may be underway, then the officer may stop a suspicious person briefly and ask reasonable questions related to their suspicions. Similarly, a police officer can conduct a traffic stop if there is a reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is underway. If there is probable cause that there is evidence of a cranial activity in the vehicle, then the police can legally search any area that the evidence may be found.
Removing unlawfully collected evidence
If evidence is obtained illegally or is the result of an unlawful traffic stop, then it may not be allowed in court. Maryland residents facing criminal charges may not know their criminal defense options, which is why consulting an experienced attorney for guidance on how to protect their rights.