What Are My Rights Regarding Illegal Searches and Seizures?

Has a law enforcement officer tried to search your person or property without a warrant? Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, you have a right to secure your property against unlawful seizures. When a law enforcement officer attempts to seize your property without first going through the necessary steps, the evidence they collect may not be admissible in court. 

If you think illegal search or seizure may be at play in your criminal case, contact a Florida criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

What Is an Illegal Search or Seizure?

An illegal search or seizure happens when a police officer searches your person or property or seizes your property without the necessary permissions. Usually, a police officer would need a warrant to conduct a search or seizure. But there are some instances in Florida for which a warrant is not necessary:

    • Search upon arrest: Florida police officers can search a person’s property after arresting them. 
    • Reasonable cause: If an officer reasonably suspects that criminal activity is happening on a property, they can enter without a warrant.
    • Consent: A person can waive their Fourth Amendment right and allow an officer to search their property if they give explicit permission.
    • Good faith exception: If an officer acted in good faith, the evidence gathered through the illegal search and seizure may still be admissible. 
    • Car searches: You have less privacy in your car than in your home. An officer can search your vehicle with even a small suspicion that it contains contraband. The officer can also legally look in your window, spot the contraband, and seize it without a warrant. 
  • Exigent Circumstances: Situations where law enforcement can bypass the usual requirement for a warrant, due to the immediate need to prevent potential harm, loss of evidence, or escape of a suspect.

Outside of these circumstances, if an officer searches or seizures your property without permission, they may have violated your rights. A criminal defense lawyer in Florida can help you request that the evidence they found not be used against you. 

What to Do After an Illegal Search or Seizure 

If you suspect an officer is searching your person or property illegally, communicate that you do not consent to the search. If they continue, do not try to physically stop the search; instead, you can fight the illegal search and seizure later on. You don’t want to risk worsening your criminal charges by physically interfering with an officer. 

You may choose to hire a Florida criminal defense attorney; they will help you gather evidence that the search was unlawful. Such evidence may include:

  • Police body cam footage of the search or seizure
  • Evidence showing the officer did not have reasonable cause for a search
  • Witness testimony proving you did not consent to the search

Florida courts typically admit evidence from illegal searches and seizures unless the suspect challenges that evidence. 

If you can prove the search was illegal, the justice system may remove that evidence from your case. This doesn’t automatically mean the state will drop the charges against you. But if your charges rest on that specific evidence, they may no longer have a case against you without it. 

Consult a Florida Defense Attorney 

Having skilled Florida criminal defense legal counsel on your side after any criminal charge is vital to your case outcomes. But if you suspect an illegal search or seizure, you may be served by bringing on a Florida criminal defense attorney with experience and knowledge to help dismiss this evidence. 

For reliable Florida criminal defense representation, contact Michael White, P.A., today at 954-270-0769 to schedule your consultation

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After several years as a prosecutor and General Counsel for the Broward County Police Benevolence Association (PBA), Michael White started his own practice focused on protecting individuals accused of crimes.

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