Thursday, March 27, 2014

Search & Seizure – What are My Rights?

The term “search & seizure” typically refers to incidents in which law enforcement officers enter a person’s home or property to conduct a search for something illegal, and then take something from the property as evidence.

It’s important to understand that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from being subject to unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. If a person’s Fourth Amendment rights are violated by law enforcement, any evidence obtained against them during the illegal search and seizure could be ruled inadmissible by the court.

Is a search warrant always required?

In most cases, law enforcement must have a warrant before they can search a person’s private property. A search warrant is a court order that a judge signs only if the police can show that there is probable cause that the person being searched has been involved in a crime. The search warrant must detail the specific location to be searched and items to be seized; a search warrant does not give law enforcement free reign to search wherever they want.

Exceptions to the Search Warrant Requirement

There are exceptions to the search warrant requirement in Nevada, including:
  • Consent – If police ask you if they can search your property and you agree, they can search your property without a warrant.
  • Lawful Arrest – If you are legally arrested, the police have the lawful right to search your person and the area within your immediate control for any contraband, weapons, or other relevant evidence.
  • Vehicle Exception – Police can typically search your vehicle without a warrant if they have reasonable cause to believe that it holds evidence of a crime.
  • Plain View – If police have the authority to search a certain location, they can seize any property of yours that is sitting in plain view in that location if they have probable cause to believe that it is evidence of a crime.
  • Trash Search – Police can legally search any trash you leave outside of your residence and seize anything that could be used as evidence.
  • Inspection – Police do not need to have a warrant to search your person or property at a designated inspection, such as a DUI checkpoint, border search, health inspection, or airport security search.
  • Exigent Circumstance – Police do not need to have a search warrant to enter a structure in situations where a person faces imminent danger, a suspect will escape, or evidence faces imminent destruction.
If you feel that the prosecution’s evidence against you was obtained through an illegal search and seizure, contact our criminal defense team at De Castroverde Law Group today. Our skilled attorneys can assess whether your rights were violated and build a comprehensive defense to fight your charges!