Search and Seizure

The United States Constitution and the Iowa Constitution both guarantee the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.  A “search” occurs any time the government intrudes upon an area or property item that a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in.  A “seizure” occurs anytime the government restrains a person of their freedom to move about.  The provisions of the Fourth Amendment and article I section 8 of the Iowa Constitution serve not only to prevent governmental intrusions into our privacy but also provide a defendant with one of the most effective tools in criminal defense – exclusion of evidence.
The accused can be 100% factually guilty of a charge but if the evidence establishing the defendant’s guilt was obtained in violation of the search and seizure provisions of the constitution the defendant may get completely off of the charge.  Under the “exclusionary rule,” of both the Iowa Constitution and the United States Constitution, the government is not allowed to use illegally obtained evidence against a defendant at trial.  This means if a judge concludes that the evidence was obtained in violation of the accused rights to be free from unreasonable searches and seizure that evidence is “thrown out of court,” often leaving the prosecution without sufficient evidence to convict the defendant.
These situations happen most frequently in cases that arise out law enforcement’s stop of a vehicle.  Whether it is a drunk driving, narcotics transportation, possession of drugs, or weapons charge, if the evidence was discovered following an illegal stop of the vehicle, that evidence can be excluded. For this reason, it is imperative to consult with aggressive and competent search and seizure lawyer if a person believes that their right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure may have been violated.  Time is of the essence because law enforcement will often not take adequate steps to preserve important evidence documenting a potential constitutional violation.  Quick action should be taken to ensure it is properly preserved

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