Massachusetts Legal Developments Blog

When do Massachusetts Searches Become Illegal?

Law enforcement in Quincy recently followed a pickup truck carrying approximately 200 pounds of marijuana and proceeded to charge a man with possession with intent to distribute the drug. The arrest occurred after law enforcement followed the man’s truck to the location and watched him drop off several duffel bags that contained marijuana. Law enforcement had to forcibly enter the man’s house to perform the arrest after the bags were delivered. 

Once inside the home, law enforcement located a pistol, bullets, and packaging material. The man was also charged with conspiracy to violate drug laws as well as possession of a firearm and ammunition without a firearm identification card. Two other people at the homes were also arraigned on drug charges and released on a $1,000 bail. Investigators later claimed that the arrest came from a tip that a truck would drop off a large amount of marijuana transported from New York.

Massachusetts residents are protected from unlawful searches of their person as well as homes, vehicles, and other property. To perform a legal search, a law enforcement officer must either have a valid warrant to search the subject or probable cause to perform a search. 

Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution as well as Article 14 of the Massachusetts Declaration of Rights, any evidence of a criminal act that is obtained during a search or seizure is not admissible in a court proceeding. Many marijuana and other drug-related charges have been dismissed because it has been established that law enforcement lacked probable cause or a valid warrant. To provide you with a better understanding of these issues, this article discusses the role of search warrants in Massachusetts.

The Role of Search Warrants in Massachusetts

For a search warrant to be classified as valid, it must specifically identify the premises to be searched. For example, a valid search warrant will identify which vehicle or property address will be searched by law enforcement. If a specific property is to be searched, the warrant must contain the correct address. These warrants must also be supported by probable cause, which must be based on specific facts. Lastly, search warrants will only be classified as valid if they are signed and issued by a judge.

Rules for Executing a Search Warrant

Not only must warrants meet certain requirements to be valid, they also must be executed in specific ways. In Massachusetts, law enforcement officials must knock on the door of a residence as well as identify themselves and their purpose when executing a search warrant. If there is no answer at the residence or inhabitants are not cooperative, situations might necessitate law enforcement to use force to access the property. There are also some limited exceptions to the knock and announce rule that permits law enforcement to enter a residence without knocking. 

Speak with an Experienced Drug Charge Attorney

If you are charged with any type of marijuana-related offense in Massachusetts, it can help to speak with a knowledgeable attorney. Contact attorney Edward R. Molari today to schedule a free case evaluation.