If the police have ever pulled you over while driving, you may have wondered if they had the authority to search your vehicle. If the police have ever shown up at your home, you may have wondered if they had the authority to enter without your permission.
The answer depends on whether or not the police have reasonable suspicion of a crime.
What is search and seizure?
Search and seizure refers to the act of police searching you or your property and seizing items they discover during their search that they believe to be evidence of a crime.
Is search and seizure legal?
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution shields citizens from unreasonable search and seizure and protects their privacy rights. The legality of a search and seizure depends on the circumstances of the search. For example, a search is reasonable if the police have a warrant to search the property or if they observe a person engaging in suspected criminal activity.
When does search and seizure become illegal?
Police must have probable cause to conduct a search. They must have a warrant in most cases, although it is not always necessary in emergency situations. If police conduct a search beyond the scope of the warrant, the search may be illegal. If police enter a home without a warrant or permission, the search may be unlawful.
Depending on the circumstances of the search and the charges involved, it may be possible to have evidence obtained during an illegal search and seizure excluded from your case.