The United States Constitution was written to restrict the authority of the police and government officials over the American people, while giving them enough to maintain peace within U.S. communities. By prohibiting authorities from searching the property or person of citizens, the Fourth Amendment safeguards the right to privacy.
How a police search is conducted and whether or not the Fourth Amendment was adhered to can determine if evidence is admissible or inadmissible in a court of law. Here’s what you need to understand about unlawful searches and how to get help after an arrest.
Unreasonable Search & Seizure 101
Unlawful or illegal search and seizure occurs when law enforcement or government agents conduct a search without first having the grounds to justify it. Say someone was stopped by the police while driving for speeding.
Ordinarily this would likely just result in being issued a ticket. However, if the police decide to search the car for drugs or other contraband without first having enough evidence to warrant doing so, this could result in any evidence found being dismissed. If a warrant cannot be obtained, officers will not be able to conduct a valid search unless they have real reason.
What Does Law Enforcement Need to Conduct a Legal Search?
A search of someone’s person and/or property can be done legally if the police have:
- A search warrant
- Probable cause for a search
- Extenuating or mitigating circumstances
- Permission from the suspect
When conducting a search, non-government authorities like a retailer or private security firm aren’t held to the same legal standard as law enforcement agents. They may be able to search your person or property without the above.
It’s also important to know that police don’t need a warrant or probable cause to use evidence against you that they found out in an open area or in a place where a person could not reasonably expect privacy.
Facing Criminal Charges? A New York Criminal Defense Lawyer Can Help
If you believe you may have been subjected to an illegal search, or if you were charged with any kind of crime, it’s crucial that you don’t wait to get legal assistance from a qualified New York criminal defense lawyer.
An attorney can help you understand and defend your rights from the start of your case to the final verdict. Contact Scott Cerbin Criminal Defense today for more information by calling 718-596-1829.