Prosecutors need a variety of evidence in order to convict person on the crime in Maryland. Sometimes this evidence comes in the form of physical evidence collected by police during an investigation. Evidence can be critical in the prosecutor's case. Without the evidence, it may be impossible or prosecutors to move forward with the case or to convict the accused on the criminal charges.
Maryland residents should know that police cannot conduct an investigation in any way that they would like. There are constitutional protections that every Maryland resident is entitled to. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects Americans from unreasonable and illegal searches and seizures. In order to ensure that a police search complies with the Fourth Amendment, in most cases, the police must have a warrant to search a person's residence, car or person.
What is a warrant? A search warrant is in order issued by a judge that gives police the right to search a specific person or place. A judge can only issue a warrant if the police have probable cause that a crime has occurred or is going to occur. However, a warrant is only necessary if police want to search a place or person when there is a "legitimate expectation of privacy."
These requirements only apply to government officials, like police officers. Private investigators and other private individuals are not required to follow the same rules.
If police, or other law-enforcement officials, failed to follow the warrant requirement rules, then their search maybe deemed illegal. Any evidence found in an illegal search may not be used in court. However, there are numerous exceptions to the warrant requirement.
People who have been accused of a crime in Maryland need to ensure that police acted according to the law. In some cases, challenging police behavior during the course of a criminal defense is appropriate. While this blog post cannot answer specific legal questions, an attorney can help people determine whether or not a warrant issue exists in their case.