What Are My Rights Regarding Search and Seizure of My Property?
The United States Constitution gives us important rights and limits the power of the government. One of the most important rights afforded by the Constitution is the right to protection from invasion of privacy by the government. The Fourth Amendment states that people have the right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures” of personal property. If you or a loved one was charged with drug possession, theft, or another criminal offense, it is crucial that you understand how your Fourth Amendment rights may influence your case.
When Can Police Search My Vehicle?
Criminal charges for possession of marijuana or other drugs are often a result of police searching a vehicle. The laws protecting citizens against unreasonable search and seizure apply differently to vehicles than they do to other types of property. Police are permitted to search a person’s vehicle without a warrant if:
The person gives the officer consent or permission to search the car
The officer has probable cause to believe that there is evidence of a crime in the car
The driver of the vehicle has been arrested and the search is related to the arrest
The officer has a reasonable belief that a search is needed for his or her own safety
These criteria may seem straightforward, but they leave wide room for interpretation. An attorney can help you understand if you have been a victim of an illegal vehicle search. If a law enforcement officer searches your car and none of these criteria were met, evidence that was obtained during the search may be inadmissible. Your case may even be dismissed entirely.
When Can Police Search My Home?
Searching a person’s residence typically requires a search warrant. To obtain a search warrant from a judge, police must show that there is reason to believe that evidence of criminal activity will be found in the home. Once the police have a valid search warrant, they are permitted to search your property. There are also situations in which police are authorized to carry out a warrantless search. Police may search your home without a warrant if:
The police have your consent
There are illegal items in plain view
You have been arrested
There is an emergency or someone is in immediate danger
The police are in a “hot pursuit” chase of someone fleeing or hiding from law enforcement
Evidence obtained in an illegal search of a residence may not be used against the criminal defendant at trial.
Contact a Fairfield County Drug Crime Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges, it is important to have an experienced lawyer on your side. A skilled Stamford criminal defense attorney from the Law Offices of Daniel P. Weiner can investigate your case and determine if you have been the victim of an illegal search and seizure. Call 203-348-5846 for a free, confidential consultation.