You have the right not to be subjected to illegal search and seizure during interactions with law enforcement. The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches by law enforcement. This applies no matter which state you reside in. The amendment also accommodates laws on search warrants, wiretaps and surveillance, safety inspections, and stop-and-frisks.
This constitutional amendment focuses on limiting police power when it comes to searching individuals and taking their property, even if it’s illegal. If you’ve been charged in Fort Lauderdale, there is a high chance that the evidence was unlawfully obtained. A criminal defense lawyer can help to protect your rights by fact-checking specific loopholes.
It’s important to note that any evidence that was acquired through an illegal search is not admissible in court. This could get your case dismissed. Working with a criminal defense attorney ensures that your case is evaluated and a comprehensive defense structured to give you a favorable outcome.
What is an “Illegal Search”?
In cases where the police have a possible cause to believe that you’ve committed a crime and a judge has issued a warrant, the police may interfere with your rights to privacy. Sometimes a search without a warrant is justified.
The constitution bans all searches and seizures that are unreasonable. This means your rights are violated if the police search a place in which you have a valid exception of privacy.
There are two tests used by the US Supreme Court to determine if you had a right to privacy when the police searched your property.
The tests consist primarily of two questions:
- Would a practical person have the same exemption of privacy in a similar setting?
- Did you expect some level of privacy in the setting?
For example, if the police stopped you for speeding and they notice something unusual in the passenger seat, this could serve as valid evidence. While you expect to have some privacy in your personal car, the passenger seat is visible. A rational person would agree that looking at the seat does not amount to an unreasonable search.
However, if you’re in your house, you can expect some degree of privacy. Any reasonable person would consider this justified. If the police installed a hidden surveillance camera in your home, the judge could find this an illegal search.
If you believe that you’ve been a victim of an illegal search, speak to your attorney about your options. An experienced attorney will look at the circumstances and build a defense to get your charges reduced or dismissed.