When a person is arrested for some reason, a subsequent search may reveal unlawful evidence that strengthens the governments’ case or leads to new charges.  The question is “was the subsequent search that resulted in the seizure of the items lawful?

Fundamentally, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights require a search warrant approved by a neutral and detached magistrate that establishes probable cause to search.  The reality is a large percentage of searches are conducted without a search warrant.  There are multiple exceptions to the warrant requirement.  When a search is conducted without a search warrant, the government has the burden to prove some warrantless exception applied to the facts of the case and that the search is therefore reasonable.

One of the exceptions to the warrant requirement is the often-invoked search incident to lawful arrest exception.  As is true of many legal principles, the facts of the case will determine whether the search incident to lawful arrest exception justifies what would otherwise be an unlawful search.  What was the crime the person was arrested for?  Was the arrest the result of a motor vehicle stop? Was the person searched a recent occupant of a car that was searched?  Was the person arrested inside a home?  A top Massachusetts Criminal Defense lawyer will analyze the facts to determine the answers to these questions while preparing to suppress the evidence.

Generally speaking, the purpose of the search incident to a lawful arrest exception is for two purposes.  First, for the purpose of seizing fruits, instrumentalities of crime, contraband, or other evidence of the crime for which the person is being arrested.  A second purpose includes removing any weapons that the person being arrested might use to resist arrest or escape.

A skilled Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney will scrutinize the facts to the case and focus on the areas of weakness when preparing a motion to suppress.


Boston, MA Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Miller has successfully challenged the warrantless seizure of items used to bring criminal charges against his clients.  Massachusetts Criminal Defense Lawyer Jeff Miller has demonstrated his skill  by suppressing unlawful firearms, illegal narcotics, and incriminatory statements by his clients.  CLICK HERE to read about cases where Massachusetts Criminal Defense Attorney Jeff Miller has successfully suppressed evidence.  If you have been subjected to a warrantless search and evidence was seized, contact the Law Office of Jeff Miller immediately at 617-482-5799.