As an American citizen, you have important protections under the U.S. Constitution. One of these protections is the right against unreasonable searches and seizures.
If you’ve had an interaction with law enforcement in Riverside, you may have been the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure. In addition to reading this article, you should contact a Riverside, CA civil rights attorney immediately to discuss your case.
The Fourth Amendment
The right against unreasonable searches and seizures comes from the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. The Fourth Amendment limits the power of the police by requiring them to have a valid warrant or probable cause to suspect criminal activity before being able to conduct a search or seizure.
The Fourth Amendment was adopted to protect the privacy rights of citizens. To be protected by the Fourth Amendment, an individual must have a reasonable expectation of privacy under the facts and circumstances of the case.
Reasonable Search and Seizure Requirements
In general, a search or seizure is unlawful unless the police have a warrant based on probable cause that a crime was committed. This applies when the person has a legitimate expectation of privacy in the place or thing being searched. For example, because people have a greater expectation of privacy while at home than in their car, a search warrant may be required for a home search while not always required for a vehicle search.
Exceptions to the Search Warrant Requirement
There are certain circumstances where law enforcement officers can conduct searches and seize property without a warrant. Some of the situations include:
- Plain view: An officer can seize items that are in plain view (a bag of marijuana left on a car seat, etc.).
- Consent: If you voluntarily give permission for a search, and have a reasonable expectation of privacy based on the facts and circumstances, you will lose your Fourth Amendment protections.
- Lawful arrest/search incident to arrest: As part of a lawful arrest, the police may search a person and their immediate surroundings for weapons or other harmful objects.
What if I Was the Victim of an Unreasonable Search and Seizure?
If your civil rights against unreasonable search and seizure are violated, you may have a strong defense against any charges you face. A violation could result in the exclusionary rule, which means that any evidence that was seized during an illegal search may be deemed inadmissible. It could also result in the “fruit of the poisonous tree,” which is a doctrine that states that any evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful search and seizure cannot be used against the defendant.
Call a Riverside Civil Rights Attorney Today to Schedule a Free Consultation
If the police did not have a search warrant or an applicable exception, you may have been subjected to an unreasonable search and seizure. You should contact an experienced Riverside, CA civil rights attorney to determine whether your rights were violated. Call us today at (951) 382-5559 or use our online contact form.