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Illegal Search and Seizure: Know Your Rights

Illegal Search and Seizure: Know Your Rights

As provided by the Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution, individuals are protected against “illegal searches and seizures.”

If you have been charged with a criminal offense and believe that your rights have been violated, you need to understand what constitutes an illegal search. Search and seizure is often confusing, and something that should really be evaluated with the assistance of a criminal defense lawyer. The following is some basic information about the rights you have regarding searches and seizures.

Probable Cause

What is clear about search and seizure is that in most cases, law enforcement must receive your permission or obtain a search warrant from a judge to conduct searches without your permission. In the case of a warrant, there must be a good reason for a judge to feel compelled to grant the search warrant. The “probable cause” must be communicated to the judge. This can be in the form of evidence, suspicion, or even hearsay (if the source is considered reliable).

In addition to providing probably cause, warrants must be specific in nature. In the case of obtaining a warrant, a judge does not give law enforcement free reign to search all of your property. A warrant must be specific. Law enforcement must affirm their request to search and seize, and provide specifics about the person, location, and items they intend to search and/or seize.

Your Consent

A law enforcement officer does not need a warrant to search you or your property if you (or someone with authority) give them permission. In this situation, law enforcement may or may not inform you that you are giving up your Fourth Amendment right by allowing them to perform a search of your property. If you are eventually charge with a criminal offense, a prosecutor may use your consent as evidence.

If you feel that you are the victim of an illegal search and seizure, a criminal law lawyer can evaluate the circumstances of your case and determine your legal options moving forward. Illegal searches and seizures are significant because the evidence collected may not be admissible in court. For more information, call 1-800-ATTORNEY.

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