If you have been charged with a drug crime, it is important to understand that you still have rights. If you can show that police violated your rights during your arrest or detention, you may be able to pull the rug out from under the prosecution’s case against you.

Under the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, suspects have certain protections with regards to a police officer’s ability to apprehend or “seize” a suspect, as well as initial and subsequent searches by authorities.

The Fourth Amendment may be applicable from the time a person is initially searched or questioned. In most cases, the authorities may not seize or search a person or their property unless they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been or will be committed, or unless they have a valid search warrant or arrest warrant.

These protections are not only limited to a person’s clothing, pocketbook or luggage, but also, to some extent, to a suspect’s house, apartment, hotel room, vehicle, or office or workspace. If evidence is illegally obtained, not only can it not be used in court, but the case may be outright dismissed, depending on the circumstances.

It is not always easy to prove such incidents occurred, so finding the right team of defenders experienced in criminal law and drug charges may be in your best interest. Being found guilty of a drug offense may come with some very serious consequences including significant time in prison, fines, a criminal record and various other serious penalties. What’s more, a conviction on your record can have long-term consequences that affect many aspects of your life, including your ability to find employment and housing.

Source: FindLaw, “Illegal Search and Seizure FAQs,” accessed on Jan. 24, 2016