Illegal Search and Seizure Attorneys in San Diego
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens of the United States from illegal search and seizure. This law applies to law enforcement at the local, state, and federal levels. Most police officers do not perform searches and seizures unless they have gone through the proper channels to do so. However, some law enforcement officials do not conduct themselves according to the Fourth Amendment.
Citizens who have been victimized by an unlawful search and seizure can take measures to protect themselves. If you had a search or seizure performed on your property, speak to a criminal defense lawyer right away. At jD LAW, founding attorney James N. Dicks is board-certified by the State Bar in Criminal Law, and has experience as a former LAPD narcotics investigator. We know what to do to protect your rights, so call us right now for a free consultation.
In order to perform a lawful search and seizure, law enforcement must obtain a search warrant from a judge. They must show that a crime has been committed, or that a suspect in a crime is hiding evidence. Search warrants must be based on probable cause and contain specific wording to be considered legal. They must indicate the area where law enforcement will be searching, and identify what evidence is being looked for.
Even when a search warrant has been obtained, it can still be challenged in court. Perhaps the officers requesting the warrant misled the judge, or the warrant did not contain the proper wording, or the judicial officer was biased. A good defense lawyer will know what to do.
While a search warrant is required most of the time before police officers can search private property, there are some exceptions. If a person gives consent to be searched, law enforcement can perform a legal search and seizure. If an officer believes that critical evidence will be destroyed without a search, or is trying to protect their own personal safety, the officer can perform a search. This includes a Terry stop, in which a person may be detained or the exterior of their clothing searched for weapons.
Searches conducted at international borders are considered legal, even when law enforcement does not have a warrant.
Police may search a vehicle that they believe contains evidence of criminal activity, especially when the evidence is in plain sight of the officers. In fact, anytime evidence is in plain sight, a police officer may conduct a legal search. Anytime there is an emergency, law enforcement may also conduct a search.
When individuals have no reasonable expectation of privacy, their property may also be searched. This may depend on their location, but not always. For example, you have a reasonable expectation of privacy when you are at home, or in a tent, tarp, or hotel room. However, if you throw evidence into the garbage and then take the garbage out, placing it at the curb on city property, you give up the right to privacy.
On the other hand, if a person is simply sitting in a car in a parking lot, that person has a reasonable expectation of privacy. If a police officer searched the vehicle with no probable cause and no evidence of a crime in plain sight, it would likely be considered an illegal search. If the person had a bag of cocaine sitting on the dashboard, the search would be considered legal because it is reasonable to assume that anyone looking into the car would be able to see the bag of cocaine.
Even when an illegal search and seizure has turned up evidence of a crime, a case can still be thrown out of court. But it can be difficult for individuals with little knowledge of the law to understand when a search has been conducted legally or not.
If law enforcement conducted a search of your personal property, contact jD LAW right away. We can go to work to get your case dismissed if the search was conducted illegally. Either way, we will review your case and provide you with the best defense possible. Call (760) 630-2000 now for a free consultation with an experienced San Diego criminal lawyer.
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