Generally, police officers who are investigating a crime need a warrant to search a defendant. There are exceptions, though, such as in cases in which an officer reasonably suspects that a person is committing a crime. In such instances, an investigatory stop may be justified. Recently, a Michigan court discussed the right against unreasonable search and seizure in a matter in which the defendant was charged with numerous firearms and drug offenses. If you are accused of committing a crime, you should consult a trusted Michigan criminal defense attorney promptly to discuss your options.
The Defendant’s Arrest
Allegedly, the defendant was arrested at a gas station for carrying a concealed gun without a license. Apparently, an officer saw the gun in the defendant’s waistband with the handle protruding from his coat. The officer asked the defendant if he had a license to carry the gun, to which he replied he did not. The officer then confiscated the gun and arrested the defendant, after which it was discovered he had heroin in his possession as well.
It is reported that the defendant was charged with numerous weapons crimes and possession of heroin. He moved to suppress the evidence found during his arrest on the grounds that it was the product of an illegal search and seizure. Specifically, he argued the gun was not concealed but was being carried in accordance with the State’s open carry law. The court granted the defendant’s motion, and the State appealed.
Constitutional Protections Against Unreasonable Search and Seizure
On appeal, the State argued that the investigatory stop of the defendant did not violate his rights. The court agreed and reversed the trial court ruling. The court explained that, generally, a seizure or search conducted without a warrant is presumed to be unreasonable, and therefore, unconstitutional. The Terry stop, also known as the investigatory stop, is one exception to the warrant requirement, however.
Pursuant to this doctrine, if an officer has an articulable, reasonable suspicion that a person either committed a crime or is in the process of committing a crime, it can stop a person. Further, an officer can approach and detain an individual under the Terry doctrine for the purposes of investigating potential criminal behavior, even if no probable cause exists to arrest the person. The scope of the seizure and search must be limited to what is needed to promptly confirm or disprove the officer’s suspicion.
In the subject case, the court found that under the totality of the circumstances, the officers were justified in approaching the defendant and questioning him regarding the gun. Thus, it reversed the trial court ruling.
Confer with a Skillful Criminal Defense Lawyer in Michigan
Drug charges can result in significant penalties, but there are often numerous defenses a person charged with a drug offense can assert. If you are charged with a drug crime or any other offense, it is wise to confer with a lawyer to determine your rights. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a skillful Michigan criminal defense attorney who can aid you by developing a strategy designed to provide you with a strong chance of a successful result. You can contact Mr. Bernstein through the online form or by calling (734) 883-9584 to schedule a conference.