Illegal Search and Seizure

In cases involving seizure of drugs, weapons or other items of potentially incriminating nature, it’s absolutely essential to make sure all proper and lawful procedures for search and seizure were followed. If you think you were illegally searched, you need to contact a lawyer immediately. The Fourth Amendment protects your right to privacy, and although search and seizure laws can be fairly complicated, in most cases, you have the right to refuse consent to a search. Remember to refrain from speaking with police officers or investigators until your attorney arrives. Your lawyer will be able to look into potential violations of your rights and issues regarding a lack of probable cause and unlawfully obtained search warrants.

The Fourth Amendment

In the U.S. constitution, the 4th Amendment protects your right to privacy. “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by the oath of affirmation and particularly describing the place to be searched and the person or things to be seized. This means that a cop can’t just search you, your automobile, house or belongings just because he or she feels like. If your Fourth Amendment is violated, all evidence seized may be inadmissible in court, which in most cases involves charges being dropped.

What is Probable Cause?

What is probable cause? The answer to that questions can vary from situation to situation, but in a perfect world, probable cause is a law enforcement officer’s ‘reasonable belief’ that a crime has been committed. Unfortunately, not all police officers stick to the letter of the law where probable cause is concerned. Probable cause should never involve judging a book by its cover, judging, stereotyping or profiling a person in order to conduct a search. A minor traffic violation does not give a police officer probable cause to search your vehicle, and if he or she asks, you may respectfully refuse. It is your right. Since we’re not in a perfect world, and illegal and unreasonable searches and seizures happen all of the time, remember to exercise your right to remain silent, and contact your criminal defense attorney as soon as possible after an arrest.

Search Warrants

Search warrants are typically involved when searches of homes are conducted. There are only a few very specific reasons why a police officer would be able to lawfully enter and search your home without a search warrant. In most cases, a warrant is necessary in order to conduct a search and seizure of your property. For a law enforcement officer to get a search warrant, he or she must take a sworn affidavit to a judge, and the judge can either decide to issue a search warrant or not, based on the contents of the affidavit, and whether or not the requirements for probable cause are met.

What About Automobile Searches During Traffic Stops?

It is not uncommon to see searches and seizures involving automobiles during traffic stops. Typically, there is some type of minor traffic violation involved, perhaps a taillight was out, or you were speeding. The police officer pulls you over and for whatever reason, just wants to search your vehicle. He either asks you if he can search or based on what could potentially be probable cause, decides to search it without your consent. Unfortunately, many people just don’t know that they can respectfully say no when a cop asks to search a car. If your car is subsequently searched, after refusing, tell your lawyer as soon as you get a chance. No need to debate a police officer or make any additional trouble on the scene with a cop who is already violating your Fourth Amendment right.

Asset Forfeiture

Another problematic angle on the illegal search and seizure topic is civil asset forfeiture, which is basically when police departments seize your property and keep or sell it for their own department’s gain. Essentially, you could have cash, automobiles, and all types of valuable property essentially taken away from you under the guise of civil forfeiture. If a cop thinks your property was involved in an alleged crime, he or she can effectively take ownership of that property.

When to Contact a Jackson Criminal Defense Attorney

If you suspect you’ve been illegal searched or your property has been taken away under the loose and potentially corrupt practice of civil asset forfeiture, you need to speak with a skilled criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The experienced and proven team at Coxwell & Associates, PLLC is standing by to answer your questions at (877) 231-1600.

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