Search and seizure laws were put in place to help protect citizens’ rights against unlawful acts. It is important to know these rights and to be aware when unlawful searches have taken place. Law officers often have to make judgment calls, but it is important that they do not take away any of your rights.
The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment is the U.S. citizens’ right against unreasonable searches and seizures or issued warrants without probable cause. However, there are some exceptions to this law.
If pulled over for a traffic stop
Simple traffic stops such as speeding or driving with a broken tail light, do not justify probable cause for a search of your car. However, if stopped for reckless driving or you fail to produce a legal driver’s license; this is provides officers with reasonable suspicion.
Additionally, if you are stopped and evidence of an offense or paraphernalia is visible through the windows, this gives the officer authority to search your vehicle.
In any case, if you are stopped, you have the right to remain silent and speak with your attorney before answering any of the officer’s questions.
Probable cause allows officers to search without a warrant. Often this is used in most motor vehicle cases. This is because vehicles could easily drive away and dispose of whatever evidence they may have.
If a law enforcement officer has a search warrant issued by a judge, they can legally search your car. However, search warrants are only issued when there is probable cause. The court must have some information or evidence that makes a search necessary. The search warrant will include specific details on what is being searched and what they expect to find in the search.
How evidence is obtained is very important. If an officer unlawfully searches and finds evidence, this is a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights. If you feel that evidence found in your possession was wrongfully obtained, you should speak with a criminal defense lawyer. An attorney who is experienced in this kind of law can help with your case and protect your rights.