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Understanding Your Rights Against an Illegal Search or Seizure

By Hager & Schwartz, P.A.

March 18, 2016

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution safeguards the personal privacy and every individual’s rights from irrational and unlawful intrusion into their homes, businesses, and properties. This means that under U.S. laws, law enforcement officers cannot lawfully perform searches or seizures without warrants.

To help you understand your rights against an illegal search or seizure, our team has provided helpful information, which can be found below:

1. The Officer Must Have a Legitimate Warrant

Before an officer can search or seize your home, business, or property, the officer must have a search warrant. A search warrant allows law enforcement officers to search specific places for particular items. However, it is important to keep in mind that in most cases, a law enforcement officer does not need to have a warrant to search a vehicle. This is known as the automobile exception.

2. There Must Be Probable Cause for an Arrest to Be Lawful

Before a law enforcement officer can arrest a person, they must have reasonable belief to believe the suspect is committing or has already committed a crime. If the officer does not have reasonable belief to determine the suspect committed a crime, the officer cannot complete an arrest.

3. A Police Officer Can Perform a Body Search if a Lawful Custodial Arrest Was Made During a Traffic Violation

Once a law enforcement officer has made a lawful arrest, the law enforcement officer is allowed to perform a body search on the suspect and search the vehicle. Lawfully, an officer can do so since they may be able to argue:

  • The officer needed to disarm the suspect before taking the suspect into custody
  • The officer needed to obtain evidence found on the suspect for use at trial
  • The officer needed to ensure their personal safety during the time of the suspect’s arrest

4. Evidence Obtained By a Law Enforcement Officer During an Unlawful Search Cannot Be Used in a Criminal Action

If an officer performed an illegal search or seizure, any evidence that officer has obtained cannot legally be used in a criminal action or in trial. This doctrine is referred to as the exclusionary rule.

Were You Arrested? Contact Our Team 24/7: (954) 840-8713

If you were accused of a crime or believe you were wrongfully arrested, it is important you seek legal representation from Hager & Schwartz, P.A. right away. Our criminal defense attorneys can examine your case and determine whether a law enforcement officer treated you unjustly. At our firm, we take criminal defense cases seriously and do everything in our power to have our clients’ charges and penalties reduced or dismissed. When your future is on the line, do not wait another moment to get the aggressive legal advocacy you need on your side of the courtroom.

For proven, seasoned representation, contact our Miami criminal lawyers today. We have secured positive outcomes for a countless number of clients!