What Are My Rights During Search and Seizure?

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In this country, there is some expectation of privacy and protection from unwanted government intrusions. This means that members of law enforcement can not simply search any person or property that they want to without cause. They need the proper paperwork too. If you believe that cops did violate your rights during a search and seizure, you may have legal options. A Mercer County criminal defense lawyer may be able to help you.

What Should I Do If Police Ask to Search My Property?

We recommend that you do not let police search your property without a warrant. You have the right to privacy, and there is no reason to give up that right just because you think that it will get cops out of your hair for a bit. Even if the police are insistent about the search, make them get a warrant and do things the right way.

A warrant is a document that can be obtained from a judge. Cops need to show that they have probable cause to do a search. If the judge agrees, they get their warrant. If they do not, no search can be done. This gives citizens an extra layer of protection against illegal searches and seizures.

Warrants also have a defined scope. When you just give cops permission to explore your property, there are really no limitations.

What Does a Warrant Allow Cops to Do?

As we said, a warrant has a defined scope. Judges are unlikely to sign off on a document that is far too broad. To show that there is probable cause, cops have to get specific. They are looking for a particular illegal thing in a particular area. They cannot just say “This person must have something illegal somewhere. Let us search his car, house, office, and beach house.”

So the cops have to tell the judge what they are looking for. A warrant might entitle them to search a car for drugs or a home for illegal guns. This is the defined scope of the search warrant and cops need to follow it.

Do Cops Have Some Latitude When Performing a Search?

Cops do actually have some latitude when performing a search, even when a warrant is limited in scope. An officer can sometimes come across evidence of a different crime without violating the rights of the person whose property they are searching.

For example, if a warrant allows law enforcement to search a property for weapons and the cops find bags of drugs in plain sight, those drugs are now legally obtained evidence. They were not part of the warrant, but there is no expectation of privacy if contraband is left out where anyone can see it.

Consult With an Attorney

If you have been charged with a crime after a search, contact the Law Office of Douglas Herring. We can do our best to get any illegally obtained evidence thrown out in court and help you beat any criminal charges.

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