Illegal (or unreasonable) search and seizure happens when law enforcement
performs a search without a warrant to do so.
Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, law enforcement officers
may engage in “reasonable” searches and seizures.
In order to prove the search is reasonable, the police need to demonstrate
that it is “more likely than not” that a crime has happened,
and that if a search is performed, it is probable that they will find
either evidence of a criminal offense or stolen goods, which results in
probable cause. There are even some situations where police must first
show probable cause before a judge in order to obtain a warrant.
Remember, protections to citizens offered by the Fourth Amendment applies
to a search only if an individual has a “legitimate expectation
of privacy” in the place or property searched. If not, the amendment
offers no protection due to the lack of privacy issues.
Police may not do the following:
- If you have a reasonable expectation of privacy, police officers may not
conduct a warrantless search.
- If evidence was gathered through an unreasonable or illegal search, the
“exclusionary rule” comes into effect. This means that police
may not use any evidence obtained through illegal search against you at trial.
- Law enforcement may not use evidence from an illegal search to discover
- The police may not search your vehicle unless there is a reasonable suspicion
that it contains evidence or contraband.
- The police may not “stop and frisk” you unless they have a
reasonable suspicion that you are involved in a crime.
If you are facing criminal charges, your attorney may find issues with
how the evidence was gathered that could lead to its exclusion at trial.
Because of this, it is critical to obtain legal representation from a
criminal defense lawyer as early in the process as possible.
If you were arrested for a criminal offense in Maryland,
contact a Salisbury criminal defense attorney at
William R. Hall, P.A. for a free consultation today.