Court Explains the Rights Afforded to Criminal Defendants in Michigan

A warrant is usually required for police officers investigating a crime to search a defendant, and a search conducted absent a warrant may violate a person’s constitutional rights. However, there are exceptions, such as when an officer has a reasonable suspicion that an individual is committing a crime. In such circumstances, an investigatory stop might be justified. A Michigan court recently addressed the right against unreasonable search and seizure in a matter in which the defendant was charged with multiple offenses after an investigatory stop. If you are charged with a crime, you should speak to an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible regarding your rights.

The Facts of the Case

It is alleged that the police stopped the defendant at a gas station for carrying a concealed weapon without a warrant. An officer apparently noticed the pistol in the defendant’s waistband, as the handle protruding from his pants. The officer inquired whether the defendant had a permit to carry the weapon, to which the defendant replied that he did not. After the officer seized the pistol and arrested the suspect, he found heroin in the defendant’s possession as well.

Reportedly, the defendant was charged with multiple weapons offenses as well as heroin possession. He filed a motion to bar the prosecution from using the evidence obtained during his arrest against him at trial, claiming that it was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure. He further asserted that the gun was not hidden but was carried openly in compliance with the State’s open carry rule. The defendant’s motion was granted, and the State appealed.

Unreasonable Search and Seizure Protections Under the Constitution

The State claimed on appeal that the defendant’s rights were not violated by the investigatory search. The court agreed and overturned the lower court’s decision. According to the court, a seizure or search performed without a warrant is presumed to be unreasonable and therefore unlawful. However, there are exceptions to the warrant rule, one of which is the Terry stop, also known as an investigatory stop.

Pursuant to the Terry rule, an officer may detain a party if the officer has an articulable, rational belief that the person either has committed or is about to commit a crime. Furthermore, under the Terry rule, an officer may approach and detain a person for the purpose of investigating alleged criminal activity, even though there is no probable cause to arrest them. The extent of the search and seizure must be limited to what is required to validate or disprove the officer’s suspicions as quickly as possible.

In the case at hand, based on the totality of the circumstances, the court determined that the officers were justified in approaching the defendant and asking him about the gun. As a result, it overturned the trial court’s decision.

Consult a Knowledgeable Criminal Defense Attorney in Michigan

Drug offenses carry significant penalties, but in many cases, there are multiple defenses that people accused of drug crimes can raise. If you’ve been charged with a drug offense, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney about your options. Ellen Michaels of Ellen K. Michaels and Associates PLLC is a skillful Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can assist you by devising a plan that will give you a strong chance of a favorable outcome. You can reach Ms. Michaels to schedule a meeting through the online form or by calling 248-202-3345.

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