This is the next post in our series on the handling of Little Rock, Arkansas criminal cases which involve heroin. Our last article discussed why prosecutors take heroin-related cases seriously and also spelled out the potential penalties for possession and trafficking. It is important to understand that the national opioid epidemic has created an environment in which prosecutors are likely to seek the highest level of charges available for such offenses. It cannot be stressed enough that you should contact a criminal defense attorney immediately if you or a loved one have been arrested. In this article we will discuss search and seizure issues which often arise in these types of cases. Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
We have previously discussed how search and seizure laws impact prescription drug cases. Many of these same concepts apply to matters which involve heroin. Arkansas police may not simply stop and search a person because they want to. Under Terry v. Ohio a law enforcement officer may only stop a person if they have “reasonable suspicion” that criminal activity is afoot. When determining whether an officer had reasonable suspicion the Court will look at the circumstances in total and decide whether the officer’s observations justified detaining a person. Once a person has been detained then the ability of law enforcement to conduct a search is even more limited and, depending on the circumstances, officers may need to gain a warrant before conducting an additional search. If officers obtain evidence in violation of these principles then it may be possible to have such evidence excluded from Court proceedings under the Fourth Amendment. Exclusion of the evidence may result in the charges being dismissed under some circumstances.
The first step of challenging an illegal search is to file a Motion to Suppress with the Court. This is a formal document in which one’s defense attorney will explain the legal basis for suppressing the evidence and the facts which justify the argument being made. The prosecution will file a responding brief and the defendant will then file a reply. An evidentiary hearing will be held at which the arresting officers will testify. The officers will be cross-examined by defense counsel. After the evidentiary hearing is completed the Court will issue a ruling as to whether or not the evidence should be disallowed in Court proceedings. Again, exclusion of the evidence can result in dismissal in some cases.
If you believe that the police found heroin as a result of violating your rights then contact our office today to speak with a Little Rock criminal defense lawyer. Our attorneys have over twenty-five years of legal experience and they take pride in the level of service which our firm provides. We believe that everyone is entitled to a vigorous defense and we are ready to assist you. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.