During situations in which a police officer suspects you of a crime, they may attempt to search your home , your vehicle or your person. Criminal convictions often happen due to evidence seized by police, but people’s rights are also frequently violated by police who conduct unlawful searches.
An unlawful search and seizure can leave you feeling powerless to defend against an overwhelming accusation. However, there may be grounds to have a charge reduced or dismissed if evidence was seized in an unlawful search.
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 a valid reason to suspect that evidence of a crime may be in your vehicle or on your person.
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. Always remember that you have the right to deny a search in the absence of a warrant or probable cause.
Unlawful searches are one of the most common rights violations in criminal cases. If you suspect that your rights were violated by police or investigators, you need to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. To learn more, please see our overview of unlawful search and seizure in Florida.