If you're a regular visitor to our blog, then you may have come across our post last month concerning the issue of warrantless searches. As we explained in the post, our laws try to protect the rights of Virginia residents by making it illegal for police to enter a person's property, search a person's body or draw blood without first presenting a valid warrant. Any violation of this law can spell trouble for an investigation, particularly the evidence being used to convict a person of a crime.
To illustrate this point for our Leesburg readers, we'd like to look at an out-of-state case where the violation of a man's Fourth Amendment rights resulted in a harsh conviction. Though the original verdict may not have been reached exactly the same way here in Virginia, the case is worth looking at because it shows what could happen to a case if a person's Fourth Amendment rights are violated and this violation is acknowledged by the courts.
The case we are going to look at is that of a man who was convicted of vehicular manslaughter three years ago in New Mexico. According to reports, his conviction stemmed from evidence presented by police that had been obtained without a search warrant. Now, thanks to a Court of Appeals decision, that evidence could be suppressed in a retrial, depending on how prosecutors decide to handle the case from here.
Just as in this particular case, a violation of a Virginian's Fourth Amendment rights during a DUI investigation could also lead to a retrial or a dismal of charges, depending on the circumstances of the case. It may not always be obvious to the average person though when such a violation has occurred, which is why it's always important to have an attorney at your side when facing criminal charges.