Imagine the police storming in and turning your home upside down in search of things you have no idea about? Your personal effects are displaced, mishandled and even seized, all without your permission. You would have reason to believe your rights have been violated, right?
Search and seizure is a legal procedure for obtaining evidence in a criminal case. However, certain conditions must be met during the search and seizure to ensure that the accused person’s rights are not violated. The Fourth Amendment protects United States citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Meaning, the police cannot access and search your property, arrest or obtain evidence from you without a warrant or probable cause. So when does the police cross the line during a search and seizure exercise?
What you need to know about search and seizure
Part of investigating a crime usually involves the collection of evidence. Interrogating the witness and inspecting the crime scene for evidence is one of the few ways police gather their evidence. They can also obtain evidence by conducting a search and seizing the accused person’s property. This can include searching the accused person’s home, car and seizing assets like cell phones. However, for this to happen, the police must have a warrant, with a few exceptions.
A warrant legally authorizes the police to search and seize property for purposes of resolving a crime. The police must show probable cause that either a crime was committed or they are likely to find evidence of a crime. And to obtain the warrant, the police must clearly specify the area they will search and the property they intend to seize.
For a warrant to be valid, it must meet these four elements:
- It must be filed by the law enforcement officer in good faith
- It must show probable cause
- It must be issued by the court
- It must clearly specify the search area as well as the property to be seized.
Facing a criminal charge is a big deal. Understanding your rights and obligations to the law can help you defend yourself and have a favorable outcome when you have been charged with a criminal offense.