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Man settles lawsuit after illegal search and seizure

When police overstep their boundaries, those who pay the consequences often do not know where to turn for help. Sometimes, without proper guidance, they may plead guilty to charges that were filed based on unlawfully obtained evidence. A North Carolina man recently agreed to a settlement following an illegal search and seizure that took place in 2012.

A police officer stopped the 41-year-old man because the man's headlights were allegedly off. The man claims the officer searched his car without a warrant or permission and supposedly found illegal drugs and a firearm. Despite the man's efforts to have the results of the search suppressed, a judge refused. The man eventually pleaded guilty to the felony charges and received a prison sentence between six and eight years.

The arresting officer had contended he smelled cologne and assumed the man was trying to mask the smell of drugs in the vehicle. Despite the man's protests, the officer persisted in searching the car. The North Carolina Court of Appeals overturned the judge's ruling allowing the evidence, arguing that the officer had no probable cause or consent to search the man's vehicle. The court threw out the man's guilty plea and dismissed the charges. In addition, the arresting officer resigned from the Winston-Salem Police Department before he could be officially disciplined for violating established policy.

Recently, the man settled a lawsuit against the city, the police agency and the arresting officer. However, he says his freedom is the most important thing he has gained. He is certainly not alone in facing unjust convictions based on evidence obtained through illegal searches and seizures. Those in similar situations would likely benefit from the advice and representation of a criminal defense attorney.

Source:, "Lawsuit over a search of a Winston-Salem man's car ruled unconstitutional has been settled", Michael Hewlett, Sept. 19, 2017

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Man settles lawsuit after illegal search and seizure | Messer Law Firm