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How do you know if you’ve been subjected to an illegal search?

On Behalf of | Mar 27, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The police aren’t immune from the law. Yet, all too often, they infringe on constitutional rights that could result in you facing criminal charges that threaten to rip you away from your family and strip you of your freedoms.

Don’t let that happen to you. You need to know your rights, and one of the most important is your right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If the police violate this Constitutional protection, then you might be able to prevent the prosecution from using illegally seized evidence against you, even if it’s incriminating. Therefore, as you prepare your criminal defense, you’ll want to assess the facts surrounding any searches and seizures that ultimately led to your arrest.

When do illegal searches and seizures occur?

These illegal actions taken by the police occur all the time. But there are some specific circumstances that are extremely common. Let’s look at some of them here to see if any of them are applicable to your case:

  • Illegal traffic stop: This is perhaps the most common way in which accused individuals are subjected to illegal searches and seizure. Before the police can initiate a traffic stop, they must have reasonable suspicion that you’ve committed a criminal act or traffic violation. If they stop you without this requisite suspicion, such as when they merely have a hunch that something illegal is occurring, then you’ve been illegally stopped. Any searches that occur after that point are illegal, too, so any evidence that is seized is tainted with that illegality. In these instances, you’ll likely be able to suppress that evidence, thereby blocking it from being used against you.
  • Searches that go beyond the scope of a warrant: Even if the police have a valid, legally obtained warrant, they still might violate your Constitutional rights by exceeding the scope of the search allowed by the warrant. Therefore, when your home or vehicle is searched subject to a warrant, you’ll want to make sure that you scrutinize the warrant so that you can ensure that you’re protecting your rights.
  • Misinterpretations regarding consent: The easiest way for law enforcement to search you, your vehicle, or your home is to get your consent to do so. A lot of times when this issue is brought up, the police are going to hear what they want to hear. But don’t let their interpretation of your words back you into a corner. If you think they violated your rights by misconstruing your words, then be prepared to speak up.
  • Outright lies: There are a lot of exceptions to the general requirement that police officers have a warrant before they conduct a search. However, certain circumstances have to exist before law enforcement can utilize those exceptions. Sometimes the police will lie about the facts leading up to your search to try to justify the action that they took. But if they’re stretching the truth, then you need to call them out on it so that you don’t end up convicted due to law enforcement’s illegal behaviors.

Don’t be afraid to fight to protect your rights

It can feel like you’re behind the eight-ball when you’re under criminal investigation and being charged with a criminal offense. But don’t let the overconfidence of prosecutors or law enforcement get the better of you, and don’t be afraid to stand up to them in court when the facts warrant doing so.

An experienced criminal defense attorney can help you put another set of eyes on the facts surrounding your case so that you can figure out how to protect your interests and hold the State accountable for trampling your rights.