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Asserting Your Fourth Amendment Right in Los Angeles County

Posted by Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ. | Apr 11, 2018

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution has a lot of protections for those people who find themselves on the wrong side of the law. It pretty much protects us against unreasonable searches and seizure by law enforcement. That can be any law enforcement – the police, the FBI, Drug Enforcement Agencies – anybody who's toting a badge and searching people's cars, people's homes, people's persons – so, the bottom line is the Fourth Amendment has a lot of protections in Los Angeles. Of course, you're going to need an attorney who knows how to utilize the Fourth Amendment to defend you in a criminal case.

What Are Some Of The Defenses That Can Be Used By Way Of The Fourth Amendment Of The United States Constitution?

One big thing that the defense can do is argue that someone has violated your rights against an unreasonable search, violated your privacy if they just come into your home, search your home and find evidence. We have a lot of cases where the police, for various reasons, are just going into people's homes finding guns, drugs and various other things, and then trying to charge the person with a crime. The first thing that a good criminal defense attorney is going to look at is were the police lawfully in there? And that's going to be determined by whether or not they have some justifiable reason for going into the home.

If they can get probable cause that there is criminal activity afoot inside the home and that they're likely to find some sort of criminal activity in the home and that it's right then versus months before, then they can usually get a search warrant signed by a Judge or Magistrate, go search the home. Depending on if there's danger – whether there are guns or drugs or some other information that they have – they might be able to do a night-time search. A lot of times they can even knock the door down if they feel like they might be confronted with deadly force when they enter the home. So, one of the things that we do is, we'll file a Motion saying that the search warrant was illegally obtained, and there's a lot of different angles that can be used to challenge a search warrant.

One angle is to say that the warrant on its face was not good enough for the Magistrate to sign it. In other words, if you read the facts of it, you would say okay that doesn't get you in the house. You don't have any information that's viable and that's concrete and reliable that says there's going to be some sort of criminal activity or some sort of fruits of some sort of criminal activity, and if you don't have that then you can't get into the home. So, that's one of the big things that we do when we challenge a search warrant. We will look at the face of the warrant. Also, a lot of times we do is not the Motion to Quash the warrant. Another Motion that can be filed is a Motion to Traverse the warrant. When we're doing a Motion to Traverse the warrant, we're actually saying, hey Judge, look behind the warrant. We've got some information here that the law enforcement didn't give you. They didn't give you all the details of what's going on with this case, and therefore, once you see the real details and they intentionally omitted certain things, you're going to then say no, this warrant is no good because you can't just put all the stuff that makes it look something wrong is going without including everything. You have to put the warrant in context. You have to put all the details and all the facts, so the Magistrate can make a good faith judgment on it.

How about challenging a search of a vehicle or a person? The police can't just stop any vehicle and search it. They can't just stop any person and search them. They are going to need reasonable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot and the person that they are stopping or the car that they are searching can bear some fruit to them. They are actually going to have to come up with some evidence – may be a police officer saw something, a hand-to-hand transaction. Maybe they saw a bag full of cash or a bag full of drugs. They need something concrete to show that if they are able to stop a person and search them, they are able to search somebody's car. So, a lot of times we are filing Motions to challenge the search of a person. We're filing Motions to challenge the stop of the person or even the search of a person's car. This is a free democracy and the police cannot just run rampant. They are going to have to get the goods on somebody. They are going to have to have articulable facts to show that the person got themselves in crime and then if they are able to search them now or search the car now, then they are going to find some sort of criminal activity and be able to charge a criminal case against them. It can't just be a hunch. It can't just be a guess. They need something really clear and something really specific, and if they don't have it, a good criminal defense attorney is going to go write them.

I get the clients in. We go over everything. You give me all the details, and then with all the details, I then go through all the paperwork – the discovery, the videotapes, whatever they have – and then I'll make a judgment call on whether a Motion should be filed and if so, what type of Motion is going to be filed. I'm going to be straightforward and honest with you. If you don't have a chance to win your Motion we're not going to do one. If you do have a chance, we'll file it, we'll litigate it viscously and vigorously and we'll do everything we can to get whatever they found suppressed and get your case dismissed.

About the Author

Ronald D. Hedding, ESQ.

Ronald D. Hedding, Esq., is the founding member of the Hedding Law Firm. Mr. Hedding has an extensive well-rounded legal background in the area of Criminal Law. He has worked for the District Attorney's Office, a Superior Court Judge, and as the guiding force behind the Hedding Law Firm. His multi-faceted experience sets Mr. Hedding apart and puts him in an elite group of the best Criminal Defense Attorneys in Southern California.