Do you know your rights when it comes to being stopped, searched and having items seized from you? The police and other authorities must have the legal right to search and seize items from you based on specific situational factors. If they fail to get a warrant or do not have reasonable cause to perform a search, then you could have a case against them.
The Fourth Amendment of the United States bans unlawful searches and seizures in the United States. In most cases, searches and seizures that are made without a court-issued warrant are illegal and unconstitutional. However, there are exceptions to that rule.
Searches and seizures with a warrant
Illegal searches can occur with or without a warrant. Warrants are specific legal documents. The warrant must be used to locate an item or person specifically described in the warrant, nothing else. A warrant may, for example, give the officer the legal right to enter your home, but that doesn’t mean that they have the right to search through everything in the vicinity unless those were granted by the court.
Searches and seizures without a warrant
When an officer doesn’t have a warrant, they are greatly limited in what they can do. However, if you give permission for them to enter your home or search your vehicle, then they can do so legally. Similarly, if there is an ongoing emergency situation, they may enter a home, building or vehicle without a warrant in most cases.
What happens if evidence is collected during an illegal search?
If you can prove that the evidence was collected illegally, it may be possible to suppress it during the court trial. If the evidence is removed from the case, the prosecution may no longer have a case against you. If that happens, then you may be able to have the charges against you dropped. Even if a case still remains, it may not be as strong as before. That gives you a better chance of beating it or resolving the case with reduced charges.
Whether you’re accused of possessing drugs or had your vehicle searched during a traffic stop, you need to know your rights. You deserve to be treated fairly and to defend yourself.