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Illegal Search & Seizure: Know Your Rights

Law enforcement officers have an intimidating presence and, if you are unaware of your rights, you might inadvertently consent to allow them to conduct a search or seizure that violates your privacy. Therefore, it is crucial to be aware of what they can and cannot do to ensure your rights are not trampled upon. Even if you have not done anything wrong, there are limitations to what law enforcement officers can do and these limitations should never be ignored.

What Can Law Enforcement Legally Do?

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution allows police to engage in reasonable searches and seizures. Reasonable searches include:

  • Probable cause that a crime has occurred.

  • A search warrant was issued by a judge.

  • There was no legitimate expectation of privacy.

When determining a legitimate expectation of privacy, the following will be considered:

  • If law enforcement used an informant as a source, they must prove the information is reliable.

  • If law enforcement obtained a search warrant, they can only enter the specified areas of property listed on the search warrant.

  • Law enforcement can only extend their search beyond the listed areas if it is necessary to ensure the safety of others, to prevent the destruction of evidence, to discover more about possible evidence or other items that are in plain view, or to hunt for evidence or stolen items they believe might be in a different location on the property due based on their initial search.

What Can’t Law Enforcement Legally Do?

  • Unless warrant exceptions apply, law enforcement cannot perform a warrantless search in an area where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

  • Law enforcement cannot use evidence that was obtained illegally to search for more evidence.

  • Law enforcement cannot search your vehicle without reasonable suspicion that it contains evidence, illegal items, or stolen goods. If your vehicle was confiscated by law enforcement, however, they can search it.

  • Law enforcement cannot stop and frisk you unless they have a reasonable suspicion that you are involved in criminal activity and, even then, they may only pat down your outer clothing if they are concerned about a concealed weapon.

Search & Seizure Attorney in West Palm Beach

If you were arrested by law enforcement as a result of an illegal search and seizure, contact the West Palm Beach criminal defense team at Perlet, Shiner, Melchiorre & Walsh, P.A. as soon as possible to protect your rights from further violations. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects you from illegal searches and seizures and we will fight to uphold this right.

For the help you deserve, contact our office today at (561) 349-4856 to schedule a free consultation with a knowledgeable member of our team.

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