When someone is arrested and charged with a crime, there are a number of provisions in the U.S. Constitution that protect them. Unfortunately, when individuals are not aware of these guaranteed constitutional rights, the reaction of fear and intimidation that they experience during a confrontation with law enforcement may leave them feeling powerless. The use of excessive force at the time of arrest or during detainment can amplify these feelings.
In Alabama, the practice by law enforcement of automatic search and seizure in suspected drug possession cases can raise the question of the legality of the procedure. Scanning for out-of-state cars, profiling drivers, bringing in drug-sniffing dogs after the driver has refused the search or stopping a car without probable cause can make the subsequent arrest illegal.
Constitutional rights of the accused
The rights of U.S. citizens who are arrested or charged with a crime are covered under several constitutional protections:
- An individual’s Miranda Rights during interrogation after arrest are guaranteed the Fifth and Sixth Amendments. These include the right to remain silent, to not incriminate oneself and to legal counsel. Other provisions protect the right to a trial by grand jury and protection from being charged more than once for the same crime.
- The right to due process guarantees the equal and fair treatment of the accused, including protections against prolonged detainment, and is covered for federal cases under the Fifth Amendment and at the state level under the Fourteenth Amendment.
- The Fourth Amendment guarantees both the protection against unreasonable search and seizure and, along with the Fifth Amendment, that evidence gathered illegally cannot be used at trial.
- The Eighth Amendment prohibits cruel and unusual punishment, providing also that punishment be handed out in a fair and consistent manner.
- Due process and protection against unjust detainment are also covered in Article One under the writ of habeas corpus.
Challenging drug charges
When the police initially pull someone over, until they collect enough evidence to make an arrest they are relying only on a suspicion of criminality. Everything the officer does from that point on is for the purpose of gathering the evidence necessary to make the arrest. Warrantless searches and intimidating behavior from law enforcement can be challenged with the help of aggressive legal defense serving Birmingham and surrounding areas.