The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects your right from search and seizure. In order for your property to be searched by the police or other law enforcement agency, a warrant needs must be issued by a judge.
What is a warrant? It is a court order that is issued by a judge and permits the search of a location and the seizure of any suspicious material found on the premises that is searched. A warrant is issued when a judge is convinced that there is probable cause that illegal activity is occurring, has occurred, or that contraband is located in a specific area.
A warrant is required in order to search the property of a location in question; however, there are circumstances in which a warrant is not required. These include:
- Plain View Doctrine: A warrant is not needed to search a location when evidence of a crime is in plain view. However, in order for this doctrine to apply, the officer has to be in an area that he or she has a right to be in.
- Search Made in Connection with an Arrest: When an arrest is made, a search is allowed to be done in order for the arresting officials to protect themselves – and to protect any crucial evidence in the case.
- Emergency Expectation: If public safety is at risk, or evidence could be destroyed in the time it would take to get a warrant, a warrantless search is permitted.
- Consent: A warrant isn't needed when a person freely gives permission for a search to take place.
What is Reasonable Suspicion?
An officer can search a person without a warrant if he has "reasonable suspicion." In other words, if an officer suspects that a person has committed a crime, the officer has the legal right to briefly detain that person and inspect the surface of his clothing for weapons.
If your property has been searched without a warrant and you did not give consent for the search, legal action could be taken. Contact Attorney Hilliard of Hilliard Law, P.L. Our Clearwater criminal defense attorney will help to protect your rights. Contact the firm today.