Search and Seizures – When and How to Invoke Your Right to SilenceIn the United States, there is something known as the “Fourth Amendment Warrant Requirement.” This was made into a requirement because the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution of the United States (securing from unreasonable searches and seizures) bars this from happening if there is no warrant involved. When a search takes place, law enforcement is permitted to search particular and specified places (such as vehicles) for particular items. Sometimes, these searches take place without a warrant being necessary because there has been a lawful arrest of the driver or passenger. An arrest is only seen as lawful if there was probable cause.

What if a Member of Law Enforcement Has a Search Warrant? What Is a Warrant Exactly and How Did They Obtain it?

A search warrant is something that a judge or magistrate issues that gives permission to the police or other law enforcement to search a location or person and seize evidence in an offense. Members of law enforcement are required to apply for these warrants before a search is conducted. It is considered illegal if it is done without a warrant and unreasonably so. Police, to obtain a warrant, must show the judge that probable cause exists that a crime has occurred and that evidence of contraband linked to that crime will more than likely be found in a location on the property or on the person. They must show information or evidence to receive the permission necessary.

What are Some Situations Where Police Would Not Need a Warrant to Conduct a Search?

  • If you consent to a search, the police will not need a warrant
  • The police’s search may be in an emergency situation; for instance, somebody was killed or a suspect has disappeared into a neighborhood and the police want to search houses for them.
  • When someone has been arrested, the police are permitted to conduct a search of the person and immediate surroundings for weapons that may be dangerous to the officers or other people.
  • Police will not need a warrant to search something when evidence is in plain view of sight.

If I Have Been Lawfully Stopped, What are the Police Legally Allowed to do?

If you have been legally stopped due to some kind of issue on the roadways, the police may have rights in terms of searching. They may have probable cause for a traffic infraction or reasonable suspicion of criminal activity. They will be able to:

  • Order all occupants out of the vehicle
  • Ask to see driver’s license, registration, and other relevant information like insurance cards
  • Conduct a limited search to gain access to the vehicle identification number
  • Conduct a quick but thorough dog sniff
  • Take actions related to the original stop
  • Frisk for any weapons they believe may be on the occupants
  • Search the vehicle if they believe it contains illegal or stolen goods when evidence has come out

If My Car Has Been Impounded, Are the Police Allowed to Search it?

If the police have impounded your vehicle, then they also have the authority to search that vehicle. The search itself will probably cover many aspects, even to as little as opening any locked compartments or boxes found within the vehicle. Even if your car was impounded for as little as a parking violation, it can still be searched. However, police are not allowed to impound your car for the sole purpose of searching it and must follow strict procedures to conduct these searches.

If you believe your vehicle was wrongfully searched and foul play has occurred, you may have a case. You can contact an attorney that you trust at the Blair Law Firm. We will help you with your claim and hopefully lead you on the right track toward what you deserve!