The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches and seizures of their property by law enforcement personnel. A number of laws stem from the Fourth Amendment including those regarding safety inspections, surveillance and wiretaps, search warrants, and stop-and-frisks.
Ultimately, this amendment aims to limit police power as it pertains to searching people and seizing their property, even if it may be contraband. You can view Florida’s specific statutes regarding search and inspection warrants at Online Sunshine.
If you are facing drug charges and you think you were the victim of an illegal search and seizure, contact Michael D. Weinstein, PA. Mr. Weinstein is a criminal defense lawyer who will evaluate your case and structure a comprehensive defense based on your unique situation.
If the evidence against you was acquired through an illegal search, it will not be admissible in court, which may lead to the dismissal of your case. Call 1-877-639-4404 to schedule a free consultation with a Fort Lauderdale drug attorney.
What Constitutes Illegal Search and Seizure?
If police have probable cause to believe you committed a crime and a judge has issued a warrant—or the circumstances justify a search without a warrant—the police may ignore your right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment does not ban all searches and seizures but, rather, only those that are unreasonable.
Your Fourth Amendment rights apply when police search some place in which you have a legitimate expectation of privacy. The U.S. Supreme Court has a two-part test to determine if individuals had a right to privacy at the time that police searched them. This test consists of two questions:
- Did you actually expect some degree of privacy in the setting?
- Would a reasonable person have had the same expectation of privacy in the same setting?
For example, when you use a public restroom, you can expect some degree of privacy, and most people would consider that a reasonable expectation. Thus, if police install a hidden surveillance camera in the restroom, a judge would consider it an unreasonable “search.”
On the other hand, if police pull you over to conduct a traffic stop and they notice drug paraphernalia in the passenger seat, it could serve as valid evidence against you. Even though you have some expectation of privacy in your personal vehicle, the passenger seat is in plain view, and any reasonable person would agree that glancing at the seat during the traffic stop does not constitute an illegal “search.”
It is important to keep in mind that search and seizure laws only protect you from illegal searches by government employees. If a private security guard searches your bag and finds drugs, the guard could theoretically turn it over to the police as admissible evidence. If your case involves a private security guard, speak with an attorney about your options because there is no single body of law that establishes what they can and cannot do, according to the National Criminal Justice Reference System.
If police searched you without probable cause and you are now facing drug charges, Michael D. Weinstein, PA can help. Our office is available 24 hours a day.
Call 1-877-639-4404 to schedule a free consultation with a criminal defense lawyer in Fort Lauderdale. You can learn more about criminal defense strategies by visiting USAttorneys.