Legal Search and Seizure vs Illegal Search and Seizure: Learn the Important Differences

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Legal Search and Seizure vs Illegal Search and Seizure: Learn the Important Differences

January 22, 2019

Legal Search and Seizure vs Illegal Search and Seizure: Learn the Important Differences

The police have the right to search a person’s home, vehicle, and other personal property but only under certain circumstances. The 4th Amendment to the Constitution makes it clear that all Americans are to be free from illegal search and seizure. However, what is legal and what is illegal? For a person not versed in law, it may be hard to determine.

Keep reading to learn more about legal versus illegal searches. If you have been charged with a crime then we highly recommend you contact an experienced criminal defense attorney before giving your consent to a search. If the police have a warrant then they do not need your consent but you still need an attorney. Call The Mattern Law Firm at 310-342-8254 now.

Examples of legal searches

If the police have a warrant that has been signed by a judge, then they can perform a search without your consent. In order to get that warrant, they must prove several elements to a judge. Despite what it may seem like, it is not easy for the police to obtain a search warrant.

When a police officer executes a search warrant they can only search according to the warrant. For example, if it is a warrant for them to search for a stolen vehicle, the officer cannot legally look into the subject’s refrigerator as it is not possible for a car to be in the refrigerator.

A police officer does not always need a warrant to search property. As mentioned above, if the property owner gives consent they do not need a warrant. They can also legally search a person for weapons during an arrest or if they believe evidence is in danger of being imminently destroyed. Law enforcement can legally search for inspection purposes, such as at the airport, or a vehicle if there is probable cause that there is evidence in the vehicle.

Other examples include items found in plain view while otherwise lawfully following the rules of a search, an area in which a person would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, an emergency situation in which the police must search to prevent someone from experiencing harm.

What to do if you are illegally searched

An illegal search is essentially any search that is not covered in the legal search section covered above. A law signed by Governor Jerry Brown makes it illegal for police to seize any property unless a person has been arrested for a crime related to said property.

If you have been searched illegally or you have had property seized, then you should reach out to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. We will work to have any evidence uncovered during an illegal search inadmissible during court and will pursue whatever measures are appropriate to hold the police accountable for an illegal search. Contact The Mattern Law Firm at 310-342-8254 now to get started.

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