One of your constitutionally enshrined rights is the right to privacy which protects you from illegal searches and seizures. As much as the police are supposed to enforce law and order, they should not violate your rights and freedoms.
But what exactly is an unlawful search? Picture yourself walking down the street, and a law enforcement officer stops you. They then search your bag based on a pure hunch and find contraband. That constitutes an unlawful search, and any evidence obtained thereof may be inadmissible in court.
When can the police search you or your property?
The police can search your property legally with a search warrant issued by a court. A valid search warrant must be issued based on probable cause that a crime is being committed and filed in good faith by the police officer. It must also be signed by a neutral judge and specify the extent of the search.
Without a search warrant, the police can also search you or your property if you consent. Some circumstances when the police can perform a warrantless search include:
- The police can search you and your immediate surroundings for dangerous items such as weapons when making an arrest.
- If the police have reason to believe that evidence will be destroyed if they wait for a warrant to execute a search
- When a suspect fleeing from arrest enters a private dwelling, the police may search it to recover the suspect
Was your evidence acquired from an unlawful search?
Part of your defense strategy should include analyzing the legality of your evidence. If indeed the police broke the law when obtaining the evidence against you, it is important to take the right steps towards safeguarding your legal rights. Again, understanding how the law works will help you navigate your case and ensure a desirable outcome.