There are many ways to defend against criminal charges in Illinois. Sometimes, people provide alibis or investigate to uncover who actually violated the law. Other times, their lawyers can prevent prosecutors from presenting certain evidence during a trial. The exclusionary rule builds on the Fourth Amendment that protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures. If police officers violate an individual’s rights or break the law when conducting a search, the evidence that they gather may not hold up under scrutiny in criminal court.
Police officers may find evidence of criminal activity when searching a residence or a vehicle. Other times, they physically search an individual and find something on their person that leads to criminal charges. What justification is necessary to lawfully search someone’s body?
Permission or consent
It is quite common for those who encounter police officers while in public places or during a traffic stop to mistakenly give up some of their rights. If an officer asks to pat someone down, they might agree to demonstrate that they want to cooperate with the police. Doing so could end up being a mistake, as officers might find something that they feel justifies arresting that individual.
Suspicion of a weapon
Illinois law limits the ability of police officers to physically search a person’s body without their consent. Simply suspecting that someone may have broken the law or might possess something illegal is not a justification to search their body. Officers can only frisk or pat down people when they have a reason to suspect the presence of a deadly weapon. Only when an officer has reason to believe that someone might be armed could they pat down or frisk someone who is not subject to arrest and who has not given consent to a search.
Probable cause for an arrest
The last reason that police officers can physically search someone is the decision to arrest them. Provided that police officers have the necessary probable cause to take someone into state custody, they can search that person during the arrest and intake process. Doing so is necessary to ensure the safety of state facilities, as people might otherwise bring drugs, weapons and other contraband into jails. If the situation does not fall into one of those three categories, then the search and officer conducted may have been illegal. That could impact how someone responds to pending criminal charges.
Understanding one’s rights can make a big difference for those accused of breaking the law in Illinois. Seeking legal guidance is a good way to gain this clarity.