The 4th Amendment to the US Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures. An unreasonable search depends on the facts and circumstances of each case. Any search of a person, home, or car without probable cause or a valid search warrant is an invasion of privacy and an unreasonable search. There are many exceptions to this general rule and consenting to the search always makes the search a legal search.
The police generally cannot search a home unless they have a search warrant. The warrant must fully describe and specifically list what the police are looking for and where they are likely to find it. The police do not need a warrant to search a home if they have probable cause to believe that criminal activity is occurring.
The police may generally search a car without a warrant if the car has been validly pulled over and there is probable cause to believe that the car contains evidence or illegal goods. If the police have probable cause, then the entire car and all of the contents in the car can be searched. Generally the police cannot search the car for a minor traffic infraction, but the driver and passengers may be searched for weapons as long as there is reasonable suspicion they are involved in criminal activity beyond the traffic infraction.
The police generally can search a person without a warrant if there is probable cause or there is a reasonable suspicion that he was engaged in criminal activity.
Assuming that the police have probable cause to make an arrest, a search of the person and the person's surroundings following the arrest is valid and any evidence uncovered is admissible at trial.
Where a search is performed illegally, a lawyer may be able to suppress the evidence obtained during the illegal search so that it cannot be used at trial.
There are numerous exceptions to illegal searches and much depends on the facts and circumstances of the case. Consult with a criminal defense lawyer immediately to learn more about your rights, your defenses, and the complicated legal system.
Last Modified: 02-22-2018 08:17 PM PSTLaw Library Disclaimer
We've helped more than 4 million clients find the right lawyer – for free. Present your case online in minutes. LegalMatch matches you to pre-screened lawyers in your city or county based on the specifics of your case. Within 24 hours experienced local lawyers review it and evaluate if you have a solid case. If so, attorneys respond with an offer to represent you that includes a full attorney profile with details on their fee structure, background, and ratings by other LegalMatch users so you can decide if they're the right lawyer for you.