Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that if you are arrested for drug possession in Orange County, it is important to look into how the drugs were found during the arrest. If they were wrongfully obtained, you may be able to have key components of the prosecution’s case thrown out.
Police in Orange County can legally search you or your property or person only if they have obtained a search warrant from a judge or the search qualifies as an exception to the warrant requirement under federal or California law. Therefore, officers cannot search you or your property for drugs in Orange County without a warrant unless:
- You give consent for the search;
- They are lawfully searching for weapons or evidence that could be destroyed;
- They are conducting an inspection search, such as at the border of California and Mexico;
- They have probable cause to search your vehicle;
- There are incriminating items in plain view;
- You are searched to prevent physical harm;
- The drugs are found in a legal stop and frisk; or
- The search is conducted where there was no reasonable expectation of privacy.
You have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a number of locations, such as your home, hotel room, or tent. You do not have a reasonable expectation of privacy in a stolen vehicle or in an abandoned property. You can challenge a search that was conducted without a warrant, but it is also possible to challenge a warrant. Evidence obtained during a search and seizure done with a warrant can be thrown out if the warrant was defective or invalid or if the search exceeded the scope of the warrant.
If you are facing drug-related charges in Orange County, do not accept a plea deal without first researching your defense options. The penalties for drug possession are too severe to risk a conviction without first discussing your case with an Orange County criminal defense attorney.