Understanding Search And Seizure Protections

Citizens' Protections Against Unreasonable Searches And Seizures By Police

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is the ultimate trump card — it affords individuals protection against many things, including unreasonable search and seizures of their person and property by government officials.

But what's considered an "unreasonable search?"

The Probable Cause Requirement

In basic terms, officers must generally have what's known as probable cause to conduct a reasonable search, a standard by which apparent facts would lead a reasonably, intelligent and prudent person to believe that a person has committed a crime.

If they don't, any incriminating evidence they find is inadmissible and cannot be used against a suspect in a court of law.

Exceptions To The Probable Cause Requirement

But, like many areas of law, there are certain exceptions to this probable cause requirement. In some situations, courts have concluded that police officers do NOT need probable cause to conduct a valid search.

Objects In Plain View

An officer who finds evidence that's in plain sight does not need to meet the probable cause standard, like a bag of marijuana sitting exposed in the back seat of a car.

Emergency Situations

An officer also does not need probable cause or a warrant to conduct a search in an emergency situation. A cop in hot pursuit of a suspect with a likelihood that there will be a destruction of important evidence is a common example.

Fourth Amendment protections are by no means cut and dry. This information is a basic overview. Every situation is different, particularly in regard to vehicle and home searches.

More Information

If you have questions about a specific circumstance, reach out to our criminal defense attorneys at Cantwell & Goldman. We handle many types of criminal defense matters for individuals all throughout Brevard County.

Call 866-583-9129 today.