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Constitutional Challenges to Criminal Charges

Posted by Ken Barrett | May 01, 2018 | 0 Comments

You don't have to watch too many courtroom dramas to hear about a case being dismissed “on a technicality.” But what does that really mean? Typically, the “technicality” being referred to is the United States Constitution, as well as the state's Constitution. The Constitution guarantees certain rights and offers their citizens certain protections under the law. Generally, the rights impacted in criminal cases involve rights surrounding the following.

  • Stops
  • Statements
  • Searches
  • Seizures
  • Warrants
  • Probable cause


Law enforcement is limited to when they can stop people in this country. For example, they can't pull your car over because they don't like the politics of your bumper stickers. They can't stop you as you walk down the street because of your race. Instead, they must have a reasonable, articulable suspicion of criminal activity.


Statements cannot be coerced. Police are not allowed to beat you in order to gain a confession. They can, however, lie to you in certain circumstances. Whether the lie is permissible is subject to challenge in court. If you are in custody and being interrogated, you first must be read your Miranda rights.


Searches of your person and your property are protected by the Fourth Amendment. You have a right to be free from unreasonable searches. Whether a search is reasonable depends on the circumstances. This should always be reviewed by a criminal defense attorney.


Whether the seizure is of a person or property, it should not occur without a legal basis. Law enforcement cannot simply take something “just in case” it is evidence of a crime. Instead, they must be able to identify why they want to take the property and the legal basis for doing so.


Whether it's a search warrant or an arrest warrant, the warrant should not be issued unless there is probable cause to believe the person or property to be seized is associated with a crime. Even though judges review warrants before signing them, warrants can be challenged in court as lacking probable cause.

Probable Cause

In addition to challenging stops, statements, searches, seizures, and warrants arguing lack of probable cause, a challenge can be made to the charge itself as lacking probable cause. People can't just be arrested and charged without the government providing a detailed accounting of the reason they believe the person charged should be held accountable for the crime.

If You Face Criminal Charges

If you are facing criminal charges, don't go it alone. You need an experienced criminal defense attorney on your side who understands the constitutional requirements the government has to follow. Kensley R. Barrett, ESQ, has the experience you need to review your case and to search for possible constitutional challenges.

When evidence is challenged and suppressed, this can result in criminal charges being dismissed in some cases. In other cases, the challenge can result in reduced charges. In any event, make sure your case is properly evaluated by a criminal defense attorney who knows what to look for. Contact Kensley R. Barrett, ESQ today.

About the Author

Ken Barrett

Attorney Kensley Barrett is a skilled criminal defense lawyer with a proven track record in handling a wide range of cases in Rhode Island. Known for his strong background in trial advocacy and negotiation, Barrett is dedicated to providing personalized and effective representation for his clients. Recognized as a "Rising Star" by Super Lawyers and with a 10.0 "Superb" rating on Avvo, he consistently achieves successful outcomes, including acquittals, dismissals, and reduced charges.


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Kensley Barrett

Our law firm was founded on the belief that working with us is more than just hiring a lawyer. Working with us will bring you peace of mind and also allow you to continue with your regular life while we attend to your legal matters. Our vast experience means that it allows us to excel in both aggressively representing your interests and generating the best possible result for you.