This is the next post in my series on the handling of sexual assault charges in Laredo and other south Texas areas. My last article discussed why sexual assault charges are sometimes based on false allegations. It is important to remember that, even if you know the charges to be false, that you mount a vigorous defense in such matters. Both the prosecution and the judge will take the case quite seriously and you face a prison sentence if convicted. Retaining an experienced attorney is the first step towards protecting your rights. In this article I will discuss how search and seizure issues can impact such matters. If you or a family member are in need of assistance then contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
Laredo law enforcement may have collected evidence in violation of the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides the right against unreasonable search and seizure of a person or their property by law enforcement. In short, the police generally must obtain a warrant before searching an individual’s home or property. Also, police may not stop an individual on the street unless they have “reasonable” suspicion that the individual is engaging in criminal activity. If the police obtain evidence in violation of the Amendment then it is possible to have that evidence ruled inadmissible in Court proceedings. Depending on the facts of the case, the inadmissibility of evidence may lead to a dismissal of the charges.
Consider the following example. An individual is sexually assaulted by a person wearing a mask. She reports that the perpetrator was roughly the same height and build as her next-door neighbor, but cannot be sure it was him. Without first obtaining a warrant, or permission from a resident, law enforcement searches the home of the next door neighbor. They find the type of mask that the assailant was reported to be wearing (a breathing/medical mask which is commonly sold at retail stores). Law enforcement arrests the individual and the prosecutor files charges. Under this scenario, it may be possible to have the mask ruled inadmissible at trial. Given the uncertainty of the case, such an exclusion may result in the prosecution dismissing any charges or offering a highly favorable resolution. It must be remembered, however, that how a Judge or Jury will rule in any given matter will always depend on the facts of the case.
Excluding evidence from a Laredo Court begins by filing a Motion
The first step in excluding evidence from any criminal proceeding is to file a Motion with the Court. This is a formal document in which the accused will state the facts of the case and why the law supports exclusion. The prosecution will file a response and the Court will schedule a hearing on the matter. The police officers and other relevant witnesses will typically testify at this hearing and the Judge will issue a ruling shortly after the hearing is concluded. If the evidence is found to have been illegally seized, then the prosecution will be barred from introducing it or otherwise mentioning it at trial. Search and seizure issues raise highly complicated questions of fact and law and it is important that you retain an attorney who is experienced in handling such matters.
If you or a family member have been charged with sexual assault then contact my office today to speak with a Laredo criminal defense lawyer. My firm is dedicated to protecting the rights of the accused and I understand that this is a serious time in your life. My office will give your case the attention it deserves. Contact us online or by telephone today to schedule an initial consultation.