Police Search and Seizure Limitations

201911.01

The United States Constitution protects against searches and seizures that are unreasonable. When the police search a place or person, they must have a search warrant or there must be circumstances present to justify their action without a search warrant. Arrests made after illegal searches may be invalidated and result in the exclusion of evidence or dismissal. If you are arrested after a search, you can contact a bail bonds company to arrange for payment of a bond to secure your release.


What does the 4th amendment protect?

The 4th amendment to the Constitution is a fundamental right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. To invoke the rights provided by the fourth amendment, you must have a reasonable expectation of privacy in the thing or place to be searched. A person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in their person, home, vehicle and other places.

If the police search and obtain evidence in violation of the fourth amendment, then evidence obtained from that search may be excluded from consideration in the criminal case. Similarly, if police exercise their seizure authority and make an arrest, then the arrest may be set aside. This could result in dismissal of the case.

If there has been a violation of your fourth amendment rights, then you must follow certain procedures to seek exclusion of evidence or dismissal of the case. An attorney can help with filing the necessary documentation and can argue the issues on your behalf. There have been many cases where police searches were deemed illegal and the charges dropped as a result.

What are some exceptions to the warrant requirement?

When law enforcement conducts a search without a warrant, they must identify an exception to the warrant requirement that is recognized under the law. Some exceptions include:

– Probable cause: if the police have probable cause to exercise their seizure authority and conduct an arrest and evidence of a crime may be discovered, then a search may be conducted.
– Exigent circumstances: in emergency or exigent circumstances, such as a life or death situation, the police may conduct a search. Exigent circumstances must be clearly identifiable.
– Consent: a person may consent to search. This consent must be voluntary.

If a warrant exception is present, then evidence of a crime obtained from a search without a warrant may be admissible in court. Evidence from illegal searches is inadmissible.


What is required for a seizure?

When the police stop someone, including in a traffic stop, then they must have reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. Under these rules, the police cannot pull someone over or command a person to speak with them unless they can identify specific actions that indicate a crime may be occurring.

For example, a police officer cannot simply pull someone over and hope to find evidence of a crime. The officer must see indications that a traffic law violation, such as speeding, is occurring before they can pull someone over. If the cannot identify facts showing reasonable suspicion of illegal activity, then the seizure is illegal. If a seizure is illegal, then any information or evidence found from the seizure is deemed «fruit of the poisonous tree» and inadmissible at court.

Because of police search and seizure limitations, it is important that persons who are arrested seek out an attorney. An attorney will protect your constitutional rights and represent you in court. An attorney can request the court to set or reduce a bond amount if you are incarcerated. Arrangements can be made with a bail bonds company to secure the funds necessary to secure your release from incarceration.