The portrayal of police officers on TV and in movies tends to give the impression that they can do whatever they think is necessary in order to secure an arrest. Colorado residents actually have a reasonable expectation to their privacy that is protected by law. However, in order to develop the best possible criminal defense strategy, defendants must first understand the difference between reasonable and unreasonable searches.
Search and seizures are judged in a two-part process in order to determine whether they are unreasonable. First, defendants must be able to definitively demonstrate that they had fully expected privacy. Second, that expectation of privacy must then be vetted objectively. If both of these tests are passed, seized evidence might have to be discarded. However, in a situation where a person truly believes that he or she should have been able to expect something to remain private, societal norms might disagree, meaning that the second test would not be passed, and the search might be considered reasonable.
While exceptions might exist in extenuating circumstances, search and seizures of a person’s home without a warrant almost always constitute an unreasonable search. An individual’s personal vehicle also has some level of expectation, but it is much lower than that of a home. Depending on the situation, evidence seized from a person’s car without a warrant might be either reasonable or unreasonable depending on the court’s interpretation of the situation.
Evidence must be obtained legally in order for prosecutors to utilize it and any possible implications when pursuing criminal charges against Colorado defendants. However, the laws surrounding searches and seizures are incredibly complex and extend far beyond a defendant’s house or vehicle. Because of the level of complexity involved, it is usually advisable for defendants to begin reviewing their charges, evidence and the manner in which they were seized as early on as possible in order to construct the most effective criminal defense strategy possible.