The Fourth Amendment protects citizens from illegal or unauthorized search and seizure. This Amendment is the reason police officers need a warrant or your permission to search your home, property or vehicle. Unfortunately, that does not always stop an overzealous officer from an illegal search and seizure.
There are a few things that everyone should understand about illegal search and seizure and your options to protect yourself.
When are police authorized to search?
If the police have a warrant or your permission to search your property, the search is legal and anything they find is admissible. The same applies if the officer has just cause for a search under the “plain sight” exemption. If something in plain sight indicates criminal behavior, including drug paraphernalia, officers may force a search.
What is an illegal search?
Any search conducted without a warrant, permission or just cause is illegal. If an officer asks to search your home, or even asks to enter, you have the right to refuse. If you do so and the officer pushes the door open, any evidence in plain sight is illegally obtained as is the resulting search.
What happens with evidence under an illegal search?
You can legally fight the inclusion of any evidence found in an illegal search. In most cases, if you prove that the search was illegal, any evidence collected is inadmissible.
There are always exceptions to the illegal search and seizure regulations, but they are few and far between. Protect your Fourth Amendment rights by understanding the facts.