The Fourth Amendment protects Tennessee residents and others from unlawful searches and seizures. In most cases, a police officer or investigator needs a warrant to look through a person’s home, car or other personal property. Any evidence that is discovered during an illegal search is generally deemed to be inadmissible at trial. It is important to note that a person could still be convicted of a crime even if specific pieces of evidence are sealed.
Furthermore, the evidence that was thrown out may still be used to question the credibility of a witness during a criminal trial. It could also be considered by a judge when determining a defendant’s sentence after being convicted. Defendants should know that their Fourth Amendment rights don’t apply if they don’t have a reasonable expectation of privacy. To pass the legitimate expectation of privacy test, a person must believe that a place or an item deserves to be kept private.
It must also be shown that most reasonable people would agree with that assessment. Generally speaking, items left in plain view are generally not considered private even if they are left on a person’s lawn or in a person’s car. Authorities may also conduct searches for weapons or other evidence of a crime without a warrant after taking an individual into custody.
A person who is charged with a crime may face prison time, a fine or other penalties if convicted. A criminal defense attorney may help a person potentially avoid these penalties by arguing that police found evidence by conducting an illegal search. Legal counsel may also attempt to create reasonable doubt by questioning the credibility of witness testimony. This may be enough to negotiate a favorable plea deal or to convince a jury to find a defendant not guilty.