How do I fight illegal search and seizure in Denver?

Police have specific guidelines when they go out to search a home, or if you’re stopped in a car. Sometimes, procedures aren’t followed. The Fourth Amendment protects you from illegal search and seizure.

How Do I Fight An Illegal Search And Seizure In Denver?

How you’re protected

The Fourth Amendment states that “[t]he 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 State of Colorado also has a similar statute in the state constitution. Police can’t just search your car or home for no reason.

Why police might search

While the Fourth Amendment covers searches that are “unreasonable,” there are times when a search may be considered “reasonable.” Should the police believe they have probable cause to search you, your home, your car, or anything else connected to you, the search is because they believe they can find evidence to prove that you committed a crime. Generally, there is a search warrant issued and signed by a judge for this to happen.

Alternately, there may be extenuating circumstances that allow for a search to be executed without a warrant.

“Fruit of the poisonous tree”

Evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search can also be disqualified. This term was coined after a famous court case, Wong Sun vs. The United States. In this case, the prosecution introduced drugs into evidence that were discovered while in an interrogation during an illegal arrest.

For instance, if you are stopped by police for no reason, and the police find something that leads to hidden evidence (a note, a text, etc.) that they would normally not have found, the two parts equal an illegal search and seizure. The trail that leads them to it is the “tree,” and the evidence found as a result is the “fruit.”

This means that dismissals are two-fold. Charges filed against you as the result of an illegal action can be dismissed as well as any evidence because they were not properly obtained.

Defending yourself against illegal search and seizure

Police are not allowed to conduct searches because they feel like it, or because they “thought there might be something.” If the police come to your door and ask to search the place, you have the right to ask for a warrant. If they believe they have probable cause, you will likely get a return visit from them with one. However, if they have probable cause to conduct a warrantless search and are intent on searching anyway, you may have no choice. Verbally inform them that you do not consent (loudly if there are possible witnesses), but do not interfere with them.

Police can only search whatever is described in the warrant. For instance, if the warrant allows a search of your house, searching a potting shed may be considered an “illegal search.” They are only allowed to seize what’s allowed in the warrant. Searching for and finding something else not described in the warrant may also be “illegal,” but not necessarily.

Hiring a civil rights attorney is your best defense against a 4th Amendment violation.

Should the police violate your civil rights with an illegal search and seizure, you can sue for monetary damages under what’s known as a “1983 action.” The section of the US Code (42 U.S.C. §1983) that covers 4th Amendment violations is where the name comes from, and it’s used to define illegal search and seizure, as well as other civil rights. A skilled civil rights attorney can file charges and proceedings and guide you through the process.

If you are charged with a crime using evidence that is obtained through an illegal search, a civil rights attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence. If the motion is successful, the evidence, and possibly the case, may be thrown out completely.

NOTE: Even if a search or arrest is illegal, resisting or physically fighting an officer can still result in charges of resisting arrest — a separate charge from the original, wrongful arrest that probably won’t be dismissed. DO NOT resist an arrest, no matter how illegal.

Defend your rights — call today

If you’ve been a victim of an illegal search and seizure, you need an attorney experienced in civil rights cases.

Call the Civil Rights Litigation Group at (720) 515-6165, or use our online contact form, to schedule your free consultation with us today. We understand civil rights cases, and aggressively defend you in court and make sure your rights are protected.

Is is false arrest? Here’s how to tell if your rights have been violated in Denver

Dealing with the police can be frightening — especially if you’ve done nothing wrong. If that experience ends up in a false arrest (also called wrongful arrest), can you fight it? Yes.

Colorado is known to be one of the top states for civil rights violations, including false arrests. It’s usually an unpleasant surprise when it happens, so be on guard if it does.

false arrest in denver, CO

What is a false arrest?

A false arrest is when anyone is unlawfully restrained and loses his or her freedom of movement. This means that when someone holds you against your will, and/or you are taken into custody without any legal justification or consent. It’s an intentional tort, meaning that the individual intended to deprive you of your freedom of movement.

This can happen not only with police officers but shop owners and managers who suspect shoplifting. If someone believes you’ve been shoplifting, they may prevent you from leaving and hold you until the police arrive.

What you have to prove

If you are the victim of a false arrest, your Fourth Amendment Rights have been violated. How do you know if they were? If you are going to court, you’ll have to prove:

  1. That the confinement was intentional by the defendant (the person you are suing)
  2. That you were conscious of the confinement (you knew you were being unlawfully detained)
  3. That you didn’t consent to the confinement
  4. Whether the arrest was “privileged,” or legally justifiable, such as a warrant for arrest. The catch-all term probable cause is harder to prove, and a defense against false arrest.

Finding an attorney who is experienced with civil rights violation cases in Denver can investigate your case, build your defense and represent you in court to defend you against a false arrest.

What to do if it happens

Even if you are being falsely arrested, resisting arrest is a second charge, and you can be charged and jailed for that. In some places, resisting a false or wrongful arrest is legal, but you can still be arrested for that.

The ACLU offers information if you find yourself falsely arrested:

  • Don’t resist arrest, even a false one. You’ll risk a second charge that’s genuine
  • You will be required to give your name and address to the arresting officer, but nothing else without a lawyer present
  • You should always refuse a search without a warrant; should an officer state that he or she can get one, allow them to do so
  • Exercise your right to remain silent. You do not have to answer any questions beyond your without an attorney present; just ask for one
  • Get the officer’s name and badge number, write it down along with the date, time, witnesses names and contact information and other pertinent information to the case
  • Keep records of all conversations, letters and anything else related to the case.
  • Find an attorney skilled in civil rights violations as soon as you can, and defend yourself

Bottom line: don’t resist arrest, don’t answer any questions you’re not required to, and insist on having an attorney present when speaking to the police for any reason. Bad as the situation is, you’ll have the chance to defend yourself in court, prove the invalidity of the arrest, and clear your name.

Don’t allow injustice to continue!

False arrests can happen anywhere, and false accusations can ruin your life. If you’re the victim of a false arrest, or your civil rights have otherwise been violated, an experienced civil rights attorney will fight for your rights. While your first thought may be to call a criminal defense lawyer, remember, if you haven’t committed a crime, and your civil rights are at stake.

Call the Civil Rights Litigation Group at (720) 515-6165, or use our online contact form, to schedule your free consultation with us today. We’ll fight to help you clear your name against false arrests and other overreaching actions by police.

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Fax: 720-465-1975

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Civil Rights Litigation Group

1543 Champa St., Suite #400

Denver, CO 80202

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