What is illegal search and seizure?

On Behalf of | Jul 1, 2022 | Criminal Defense |

The police want to conduct a search, and the risk of facing criminal charges suddenly becomes very real. However, in these situations, there is also the risk of police violating your rights and conducting an illegal search.

What exactly does this mean? Here are a few critical details to know.

What makes a search illegal?

To understand what an illegal search is, it is important to understand what constitutes a legal search. In general, a legal search occurs if:

  • Police have a search warrant that is valid under North Carolina law
  • They have reason to believe someone committed a crime
  • They arrest an individual and search their person
  • The safety of the public is in question, or emergency circumstances arise

Therefore, it would be an illegal search and seizure if none of these conditions apply, police still search your person or property and seize evidence. For example, if the police arrive at your home without a warrant or probable cause that you committed a crime, and take your property as evidence to charge you, this would likely be an illegal search.

You have protections against illegal searches

Of course, the rules above apply to police searches. However, you have specific rights in these situations as well.

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution specifically protects you from illegal search and seizure. Put simply, the law states that:

  1. You have the right to the security of your person, home and property
  2. Police must have a search warrant to search these areas and obtain evidence

A violation of your Fourth Amendment rights could also constitute an illegal search. That is one reason why it is so important to understand the rights and protections you have.

How can this affect your case?

If you can prove the police conducted an illegal search of your person or property or violated your rights, then the court may suppress the evidence obtained during the search. This means that it cannot be used against you in court.

Police must follow the rules when it comes to searching and seizing evidence. If they violate these rules, you have ways to protect yourself.