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Know your Fourth Amendment rights in a Florida police search

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, unreasonable search and seizure by police is prohibited, but most people don't understand how often illegal search and seizure occurs. If you have been arrested on a drug possession charge after police searched you or your property, then you should speak with a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Two types of drug possession are recognized under Florida law: actual possession and constructive possession. With actual possession, an individual is accused of having a drug on his or her person. With constructive possession, an individual is accused not of having a drug on his or her person, but of being in control of a drug somewhere in the vicinity, often within a vehicle.

Before a police officer can search you or your car for drugs, the officer must have probable cause, such as drugs in plain view or suspicion of impairment by drugs. A police officer does not have an automatic right to search you or your vehicle in a routine traffic stop.

In general, after arresting an occupant of a vehicle, an officer must have a reason that is relevant to the arrest in order to search the vehicle. For example, if you are arrested on a warrant for a traffic violation, then the arresting officer does not automatically have a right to search your car, as there is generally no reason to think that evidence in the car is relevant to the traffic warrant.

Any evidence obtained in such a search could be thrown out and the case dismissed. These outcomes are not likely to happen on their own, however, and a strong criminal defense is needed for anyone accused of drug possession.

The Figueroa Law Firm represents individuals accused drug crimes in Central Florida. To learn more about criminal defense, please visit our website. 

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