Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Unreasonable Search & Seizure (Explained)

Check your constitution. As an experienced Minnesota Criminal Defense Attorney, I get a lot of questions about illegal/warrant-less searches.  Here are some things you need to know.

According to the Fourth Amendment Act, validates the reasonable right of privacy to an area that law enforcement might need to conduct a search or a seizure. Therefore, premises such as homes and apartments are considered private, and as such the government must have a court-issued search warrant before they conduct any search. In addition to that, the permit must be valid, meaning there must be probable cause. This (in theory) should prevent the police from  carrying out random intrusions.   under the law.  Another requirement is that the warrant must meet --- it must have been issued by an unbiased judge and contain details on where the search will happen and what should be searched. The police cannot search an area that isn’t described in the warrant and therefore cannot seize the property in that area too. 

All too often ... police have probable cause (to search) when they respond to criminal activities, and they conduct searches without a warrant. These so-called "exemptions" to the Fourth Amendment include:
  • When a person willingly consents to a search. Under these circumstances, law enforcement personnel don’t need to have a warrant present during the search. They assume the individual knows the extent of the Amendment Act. The act not only protects the people’s rights to privacy, but also prevents any property seized during the search from being used in court as evidence.
  • If you get pulled over while driving, possibly due to a traffic violation, the police can search the trunk and any other compartments of your car without a warrant. 
  • Vehicles get exempted because they are mostly mobile and criminals can use them to conceal weapons and drugs away from their premises. If the police confiscate your car, they are free to search without a valid warrant.
  • When arresting an individual, they can search the property for any evidence of criminal activity. In this case, police have a warrant for arrest, or one gets filed against you, and police suspect that they might collect evidence of your criminal act on your premises.When police witness you committing a crime in plain view and make an arrest, they may search and seize any personal items you have on you. If any of these things link you to criminal activity, then they are admissible in court as evidence.
  • Sometimes an officer may stop you and conduct an investigative frisk if they suspect that you might possess a weapon or might be dangerous.

What happens when your Fourth Amendment rights get violated? The law considers that the individual have a reasonable expectation of privacy and to feel secure in their premises from arbitrary government intrusion.  If you feel as though your rights have been violated --- you should contact The Rolloff Law Office.  We know about the exclusions to the Search and Seizure Act. If you need legal advice in Minnesota - contact us today: (612) 234-1165

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