During situations in which a police officer suspects you of being guilty of a crime, they may attempt to search your home or vehicle for evidence. While this is legal in some cases, there are also circumstances when a search is unlawful or unreasonable.
An unlawful search and seizure can leave you feeling powerless to defend yourself against an overwhelming accusation. However, you have options for protecting yourself in the face of such an unreasonable act.
Know your rights
The Fourth Amendment implies protections against unlawful searches and seizures, including an exclusionary rule stating that evidence the police obtain from an unlawful search is invalid during court proceedings. Be aware that a search is legal when an officer makes a lawful arrest for a crime or when illegal items are in plain view. An officer may not, however, conduct a search during a traffic stop unless they have probable cause to suspect the presence of contraband.
Be careful with consent
When a police officer questions you outside your vehicle or home, you might wish to be cooperative as a gesture of good faith toward the law. However, providing consent to search your property causes you to forfeit crucial protections against what would otherwise be an unlawful search. Always remember that you have the right to deny a search in the absence of a warrant or probable cause.
Police officers should know the extent of their rights when conducting a search or seizure. Extending beyond those rights is a show of force that you do not have to accept without putting up a defense.