The Constitution guarantees the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. At its most basic, this right protects West Virginians against police searching your property or person without a warrant or other legal basis.
If police conduct a search in violation of your rights, you can bring a motion to suppress the evidence.
Motion to suppress
Ordinarily, police need a warrant based on probable cause before searching a home or other property belonging to a private citizen.
Under limited circumstances, such as a search involving a motor vehicle, police may be able to conduct a search without a warrant, but in general, there still must be probable cause.
If police conduct an illegal search, a person can bring a motion to suppress the evidence found during the search. If a judge finds that the search was illegal, the judge will suppress the evidence, meaning that the prosecution cannot use it against you.
Suppose, for example, a police officer finds drugs in your pocket after searching you without a warrant or other lawful basis.
If you bring a motion, the court will most likely suppress evidence of the drugs. Without evidence of drugs, the prosecution will be unable to prove that you possessed illegal drugs and will have to dismiss the charges.
Defend yourself in court
If you are facing criminal charges, it is important to speak with an experienced attorney, who can assist with identifying potential defenses, including the possibility of bringing a motion to suppress.