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What is Considered an Unlawful Search & Seizure?

Posted By Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. || 22-Mar-2017

When it comes to our criminal justice system, you have rights that protect you and ensure you are treated in accordance to the law. Law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and judges must all adhere to procedural rules and laws that govern what they can and cannot do, and when they fail to abide by them and violate your rights, it can entirely change your case.

Among the many rights you have, one of the most important is your right to be free from an unlawful search and seizure. Under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, you are protected from law enforcement violating your rights when you are searched or arrested without justifiable cause.

At Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A., part of what our award-winning criminal defense attorneys do when representing criminal defendants entails ensuring that their rights were not violated during a stop or arrest. By executing thorough investigations and leveraging our knowledge of the law, we work to spot any questionable conduct by law enforcement officers, including any lack of probable cause and justification to search your person or belongings.

Here are a few important things to know about unlawful searches and seizures:

  • What is a search and seizure? A search and seizure is defined as the government’s intrusion into your person or into your home and possessions. In criminal law, it can also refer to you arrest and searches of places or of things for which you have a legitimate expectation of privacy, including you home, your vehicle, a hotel room, and your work, among others.
  • You have rights – The Fourth Amendment guarantees your rights to be free from government intrusion except under limited circumstances, such as a criminal investigation. Even so, however, there are specific methods that must be followed in order to ensure your rights are not being infringed upon during a stop, investigation, or arrest.
  • When do my rights take effect? – Your Fourth Amendment right applies to a number of situations involving contact with law enforcement, including being stopped on foot, in a vehicle, during an arrest, or when law enforcement enters your home, vehicle, or work in order to conduct a search for evidence or make an arrest.
  • What constitutes an unlawful search and seizure? – There are several ways that an unlawful search and seizure can occur, but they all involve law enforcement’s failure to abide by the laws and special methods through which they must conduct any search or arrest. If law enforcement conducts a search or makes an arrest without a valid arrest warrant, a valid search warrant, or probable cause to believe you have committed a crime, they are violating your rights.
  • What happens when my rights are violated? – When your rights are violated and a search and seizure if unlawful, any evidence obtained through the unlawful search and seizure can be thrown out of your criminal case. For example, if a law enforcement officer obtained your breath sample and arrested you for DWI without having probable cause to believe you were driving under the influence, your breath test can be thrown out, which makes the prosecution’s case exceedingly difficult, if not impossible. Unlawful searches and seizures often result in key evidence being thrown out, which in turn can result in dismissed cases.

Our legal team at Caplan & Tamburino Law Firm, P.A. has successfully handled many cases in which we were able to effectively demonstrate that our clients’ rights were violated by unlawful searches and seizures, have evidence thrown out, and secure case dismissals. If you have questions regarding an arrest and what you believe may be an unlawful search and seizure, our Minneapolis criminal defense lawyers are available 24/7 to take your call and discuss your case. Contact us for a FREE consultation.

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