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Border Search Laws

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Border Search Laws

The federal agency U.S. Custom and Border Protection (CBP) is responsible for the safety of the country’s borders. One way the CBP keeps borders safe and secure is by conducting border search laws.

What Is a Border Search?

This is a search conducted by customs or immigration officials at the border. The officials are responsible for preventing and detecting any illegal entries. An illegal entry may be an individual entering the country illegally or an attempt to smuggle in illegal items.

What Is the Border Search Exception?

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires a warrant for any search conducted by a police force. However, the Amendment contains a border search exception. It allows various agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security to search anyone coming into the country. The agencies also have a right to search any property the person has with them. The agencies do not need the express permission of the person being searched to search them.

What Are the Types of Border Searches Conducted?

Border searches fall into:

  • Routine: A routine search is conducted at the border. This is a limited search.
  • Non-routine: This type of search is conducted based on reasonable suspicion, and it is more thorough than a routine search.

How Far From the Border Can a Search Be Conducted?

The law allows for the United States to conduct a search at a reasonable distance from any territorial U.S. waters, plane, railway car, or vehicle. On land, this reasonable distance is up to 25 miles from the external boundary.

Will Confiscated Property Be Returned to Me?

Whether a person can retrieve confiscated property depends on the property’s use and if there is an arrest made in connection with the seizure of the property. An individual will usually have a hard time getting property back that is related to a criminal offense. Property not related to a criminal offense will be probably be quickly returned to the owner.

Should I Contact an Attorney about Border Search Laws?

It is advisable for you to contact a government attorney if you have any questions about border search laws. These laws are complex, and failing to comply to them can result in criminal charges or deportation.

Photo of page author Taelonnda Sewell

, LegalMatch Legal Writer

Last Modified: 06-01-2015 03:30 PM PDT

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