What Is Considered Unreasonable Search And Seizure?

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects us from unreasonable search and seizure — but the word "unreasonable" leaves a large gray area for interpretation. Is a hunch enough reason for an officer to search your property? Often times no. But where is the line drawn?

An experienced criminal defense attorney can ensure that your constitutional rights are protected from illegal search and seizure in New York. Located in Troy, The Law Offices of Joseph M. Ahearn is adept at identifying whether a search or seizure was lawful or not, and can take steps to protect clients and ensure all rights are protected. If evidence was taken unlawfully, the prosecution may not have a case against you.

When An Officer Is Allowed To Search And Seize Your Property

To understand when search and seizure is unlawful, it is best to start with when it is lawful. These are generally the circumstances when law enforcement is allowed to search or seize your property.

  • They have a warrant: If an officer has a warrant to search your property, you must let them do so. In order to obtain a warrant, the officer must reasonably believe your property is worth searching.
  • You provide consent: Once you give an officer permission to enter your home or search your vehicle, anything found could be used as evidence against you.
  • There is probable cause: For vehicle searches, an officer may search your vehicle only if he has reasonable suspicion that you have weapons, substances or other evidence inside. If an officer searches your vehicle without the belief there are drugs inside, and he finds drugs — that evidence may not be used against you in a drug charge.
  • There is evidence "in plain sight": One big exception to these rules is if your evidence is in plain sight. If an officer pulls you over for speeding and sees marijuana in your vehicle from outside your window, that may be seized and used against you. It could also prompt further search of your property.
  • You were already arrested: If you were already lawfully arrested for a crime, law enforcement may receive permission to search your property for any further evidence relating to that crime. This is not always the case, however.

If you are unsure whether your situation falls under any of these categories, consult a criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Attorney Joseph Ahearn is a former prosecutor, and knows what laws officers must abide by. With proper planning in your case, evidence may be deemed impermissible, which could help in reducing or eliminating the charges against you. Call 518-272-6600 today, or email the firm online to get started with a free consultation.