This is the next post in our series on the handling of gun-related charges in Little Rock, Arkansas. Our last post provided an overview of topics which this series will be addressing and stressed the need to speak with an attorney if you or a loved one have been arrested. It is important to contact counsel sooner, rather than later, as prosecutors will take such charges very seriously. The sooner you contact a lawyer then the sooner counsel can begin to build a defense on your behalf. In this article we will discuss search and seizure issues which commonly arise in such cases. Contact our office today to speak with a lawyer.
We have previously discussed search and seizure issues relating to prescription drug offenses. Many of these same issues apply to cases involving the possession of a gun. Under Terry v. Ohio, police officers may only stop and detain an individual if they have “reasonable suspicion” that the individual has or is about to commit some type of crime. The police may rely on their training, their experience, and all surrounding circumstances when determining whether they “reasonably” suspect criminal activity. If the stop of a person is justified then law enforcement may pat the person down, or conduct additional searches, to the extent necessary for ensuring the officers’ immediate safety. If someone is stopped without reasonable suspicion of a crime, or if the officers exceed their authority to conduct a search, then any recovered evidence may possibly be excluded from court proceedings.
The first step in challenging a search is for one’s attorney to file a Motion to Suppress with the Court. This is a formal document in which counsel will spell out why they believe the law was violated. An evidentiary hearing will be held at which the officers will testify and be cross-examined by the defendant’s lawyer. The Judge will hear all testimony and make a determination as to whether the police violated the Fourth Amendment when they found the gun. If a violation occurred then the gun, and any references to it, will be inadmissible from Court proceedings. If the only charges relate to the possession of the gun then this can result in a dismissal of the case. If there are additional charges then the case will proceed without any charges relating to the firearm.
Search and seizure issues raise complicated legal questions and it is important that you pick a defense lawyer experienced in handling such issues. Patrick Benca has devoted his career to defending the rights of the accused and our Little Rock office regularly handles such matters. Call today to schedule an initial consultation. We also handle matters in Fayetteville, Fort Smith, Springdale, Jonesboro, North Little Rock, Conway, Rogers, Pine Bluff and throughout the rest of the state.