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The importance of challenging an illegal search and seizure

A conviction for drug charges in Iowa state court or in federal court can have devastating consequences. In addition to fines and a possible prison sentence, there are non-judicial consequences. For students, a federal or state conviction can mean losing eligibility for federal financial aid. For non-citizens, a drug conviction can mean a deportation risk. And any criminal record can make finding a job or getting into college much more difficult.

When someone is arrested for drug trafficking, cultivation or just simple possession, one of the first issues to look into is the legality of any search that led to discovery of the alleged drug evidence. Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, police are prohibited from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures.

Police must ordinarily get a search warrant before they can conduct a search of anyone's person, home, vehicle or place of business. To get a warrant, officers must convince a judge that they have probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and that the search will turn up evidence of the crime.

Under some circumstances, police can conduct a search without a warrant. They can do so, for example, if there is a risk that evidence will be hidden or destroyed if they have to take the time to obtain a warrant. They can also conduct a limited search incident to a lawful arrest for their own protection as well as to prevent destruction of evidence.

If there are grounds to argue a search was illegal, the defendant can challenge it in a pretrial motion to suppress evidence. If the judge agrees, the evidence discovered in the search can be ruled inadmissible at trial. This is usually a significant victory for the defendant, since without the evidence from the search the prosecution may be unable to prove its case.

Initiating a proper and timely defense is important for all defendants. To learn more about criminal defense options, check out our law firm's drug offense website. This could provide general information, helping accused individuals make an informed decision regarding his or her defense route.

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J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
425 2nd Street South East
Cedar Rapids, IA 52406

Cedar Rapids Criminal Law Office

J. Dean Keegan and Thomas D. Farnsworth, Attorneys at Law
103 East College Street
Iowa City, IA 52240

Iowa City Criminal Law Office

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