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How does an illegal search affect a criminal case?

On Behalf of | Oct 28, 2023 | Criminal Defense |

Georgia police officers are often eager to find a suspect to hold accountable for reported Criminal activity. They also usually desire to maintain a high solve rate for their cases. 

Unfortunately, the desire to hold someone accountable can sometimes lead to police officers engaging in questionable behavior. There are many rules restricting when and even how police officers conduct searches. Overzealous officers can sometimes violate those rules. 

How would an illegal search potentially impact a pending criminal case in Georgia? 

The prosecutor can’t use evidence from illegal searches

Provided that a defendant or their defense attorney can successfully convince the courts that a search was illegal, it may be possible to keep the evidence gathered during that search out of the courtroom. The Fourth Amendment protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures, and this rule has an impact on criminal proceedings. 

During criminal trials, the prosecution cannot use evidence obtained during a search conducted in violation of state and federal standards. A lawyer can use the exclusionary rule to keep information gathered during an illegal traffic stop out of the courtroom, for example. 

Too many criminal defendants think about the evidence the state has and give up before fighting back. They plead guilty instead of analyzing the situation to determine whether the police may have violated the law or their civil rights. If an officer did not have a warrant, lacked probable cause or failed to secure permission from an individual, the search that they conducted may ultimately do very little to help build the state’s case. 

Learning more about rules protecting criminal defendants may benefit those worried about an upcoming criminal trial.