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Constitutional Issues in Fredericksburg DUI Cases

The most common constitutional issue in Fredericksburg DUI cases is whether a person’s Fourth Amendment rights were violated. The Fourth Amendment protects citizens and other persons from unreasonable search and seizure. Unreasonable search and seizure is defined and outlined by case law from the Supreme Court of the United States, Courts of Appeal as well as the Supreme Court of Virginia and relevant state courts.

If you are facing charges for driving under the influence, an experienced  DUI lawyer may be able to use the constitutional issue in Fredericksburg DUI case as support for your defense. Contacting a Fredericksburg DUI lawyer may be vital to your case.

Fourth Amendment Protections

Most typically for a DUI case, the Fourth Amendment allows someone to be free from unreasonable traffic stops or unreasonable encounter with the police. This means that when the stop is not supported by a reasonable articulable suspicion, it is in violation of the Fourth Amendment and may be scrapped.

The Fourth Amendment is considered a constitutional issue in Fredericksburg DUI case because it grants the individual to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights are violated, the remedy is an exclusionary rule. This means that when someone’s Fourth Amendment rights are violated, they can move to suppress any evidence in violation of those rights. That evidence is not admissible in court.

An example of this constitutional issue is if an officer says an individual was swerving all over the road but is unable to accurately describe it or provide a video that shows evidence to the contrary, the judge may suppress the traffic stop as being unreasonable. If the traffic stop or arrest is suppressed, any evidence heard after that is not admissible. A person’s statement, admission of consumption of alcohol, field sobriety tests or breath tests can be rendered inadmissible and the case would likely be dismissed.

Search and Seizure

As defined by law an individual’s rights to be free of searches and seizures means they have the right to be free of someone:

  • Asking questions
  • Detaining them
  • Requiring them to do things
  • Searching their pockets or person like a breath test that was not in their consent

The constitutional issue in Fredericksburg DUI case regarding search and seizure is when someone is free of unreasonable searches and seizures, law enforcement cannot come in and ask questions, detain them, or ask them to perform tests unless they agree to it.

Warrantless Searches

A search warrant is a judicial device by which someone goes to a magistrate, presents an affidavit of probable cause, after which, the magistrate issues them a search warrant. When a law enforcement officer has a valid search warrant, an individual cannot refuse the officer’s request to conduct a search.

Officers must show that they had probable cause to conduct the search. In a situation where there is a search warrant and the officer makes that representation, they must present the person with a warrant. When an individual’s constitutional rights are violated, evidence can be suppressed and the case may be dismissed. Constitutional issues have a huge impact on a case.

A warrantless search means that it may not be permitted but there are exceptions in constitutional issue in Fredericksburg DUI cases. The most notable exception is probable cause. When an officer has probable cause, they can conduct a warrantless search. Someone can also conduct a stop of a person and subsequent investigation if they have a reasonable articulable suspicion that a person may be in violation of the law or reasonable articulable suspicion that criminal activity is afoot.

Types of Issues

Other constitutional issues in Fredericksburg DUI cases may be Confrontation Clause issues. In Crawford vs Washington, the US Supreme Court case says that an individual has the right to confront their accuser. Prior to the Melendez-Dias v. Massachusetts, a US Supreme Court case, a Virginia Commonwealth attorney could introduce a certificate of analysis without making available the person who actually performed the test. The Melendez-Dias v. Massachusetts decision determined that certificates of analysis and affidavits are just pieces of paper produced by machines and the person performing the test must be produced so that they can be questioned about how the test was conducted. The confrontation clause is one of the big things that comes up in DUI cases.

Fredericksburg Treatment of Constitutional Issues

Fredericksburg treats constitutional issues very seriously. Judges, especially generally district court judges, pay special attention to constitutional law and making sure that people’s constitutional rights are upheld.

General district court judges generally enjoy constitutional law issues because they are a break from their regular practice of traffic tickets, speeding violations, small and relatively simple cases, and misdemeanor criminal offenses. Whenever there is a legitimate constitutional issue that someone should put before the court and file a motion and even a brief, they generally have a good audience with a general district court judge.

Northern Virginia Criminal Defense Group

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Leesburg VA 20175
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Warrenton VA 20186
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