The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides:
The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.
The Fourth Amendment applies in federal, state and municipal courts. The Oklahoma Constitution has a similar provision at Article II, Section 30. This is a fundamental right in America.
When your home, any out buildings, your office, your car or truck, and sometimes even your body is searched, you have a right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure. Generally in the absence of an officer observing criminal activity in plain sight (or perhaps plain smell in the case of drugs), the officer must have a warrant in order to conduct a search. The warrant must describe particularly the place to be searched and identify what items the officers should expect to find. A “general” warrant or “fishing expedition” is illegal.
If an officer requests permission to search you, your house or your car, you have a constitutional right to say No. Exercise your rights.
The federal and state courts have “narrowed” the meaning of the Fourth Amendment and created many “exceptions” (plain view, plain smell, exigent circumstances, search incident to arrest, inventory or impound search, etc.), meaning that challenges to a search are more complex. While it has become more of a rarity in the past 20 years for fruits of a search (i.e., evidence) to be suppressed by a judge, there are circumstances when law enforcement has violated a client’s Fourth Amendment rights, and courts will order the evidence to be suppressed.
By way of example, the U.S. Supreme Court recently ruled that “Police may not extend an otherwise-completed traffic stop, absent reasonable suspicion, in order to conduct dog sniff . . . .” Rodriguez v. United States, 135 S. Ct. 1609 (April 15, 2015). That ruling, however, is narrowly written, but the Supreme Court reiterated that a “traffic stop ‘prolonged beyond’ the ‘time reasonably required to complete [the stop’s] mission’ is unlawful.” See Rodriguez (citing Illinois v. Caballes, 543 U.S. at 407).
The Wyatt Law Office will challenge a search when it appears to violate the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution or Article II, Section 30 of the Oklahoma Constitution.
Call the Wyatt Law Office at 405.234.5500 for your Oklahoma Search & Seizure Lawyers and Attorneys. Your future is our business.
Evidence Suppressed & Property Returned in Federal Court. Bob Wyatt and Scott Graham teamed up arguing and convincing the federal court to suppress evidence obtained after a “routine” traffic stop pursuant to an open air drug dog sniff search. All property returned except any “contraband.” *
Evidence Suppressed. 14-Count Federal Indictment Dismissed. Wyatt and McCoy investigated, researched, briefed, argued and convinced the federal court to suppress evidence obtained pursuant to a search warrant in the FBI’s nationwide OPERATION CRYING EYES investigation. After the federal judge’s ruling suppressing the evidence, the U.S. Attorneys’ Office dismissed the 14-count indictment.*
Evidence Suppressed; Case Dismissed in DUI with Great Bodily Harm. A Lincoln County judge suppressed critical blood evidence in a case alleging “great bodily harm” while operating a motor vehicle under the influence of alcohol. (One alleged victim had her leg amputated and the other broke nearly every bone in his body). Without the blood evidence (which the defense also challenged on scientific grounds), there was no evidence to support a conviction. Bob Wyatt & D.C. Thomas contested the evidence and the criminal charge was set aside on the eve of jury trial.*