The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects you from illegal searches and seizures of your person and your property. Police officers and law enforcement agents must always adhere to strict codes and regulations when conducting a search and seizure, or else any evidence collected due to the search and seizure could be deemed inadmissible in court later on. This protection actually gives considerable power to the average American, but it relies on knowing what actually is an illegal search and seizure.
To begin, a search warrant signed by a judge gives the police the right to conduct as thorough a search and seizure as they want. However, the search warrant needs to be highly specific in its description of where and what can be searched. For example, if a judge signs a warrant that allows the police to search your home between 1:00 PM and 8:00 PM, they cannot look in your car parked out front, nor can they search at 8:01 PM.
There are four situations in which a search and seizure can be conducted legally without a warrant:
- The suspect willingly gives consent for the police to search their property or person.
- A police officer identifies an illegal act or object within plain sight while performing a legal stop or acting in another legal way. For example, you are pulled over for a missing taillight and the officer sees marijuana plants in the backseat of your car.
- A police officer conducts a legal arrest and follows with a search of the immediate area for weapons, perishable evidence, or others involved in the crime.
- There is reason to believe a suspect is about to harm someone or destroy evidence of a crime, and the only way to prevent these acts is an immediate search and seizure.
Search & Seizures That Are Always Illegal
Everyone has the right to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness, which cannot be infringed by the unjust or unreasonable action of anyone, including the police. As an extention of these basic human rights, there are forms of police searches that have been deemed too humiliating to allow by most standards.
It is a Constitutional right violation if a police officer conducts a:
- Rectal search
- Strip search in a public place under most circumstances
- Strip search of someone of the opposite sex under most circumstances
A person subjected to an illegal search and seizure should fight to uphold their rights with a civil rights lawsuit. Depending on the circumstances, a plaintiff in such a case could be given compensation from the offending governmental agency to pay for the cost of items seized, wages lost while wrongly incarcerated, emotional damages from being demeaned and oppressed, and so forth.
At Samster Konkel & Safran, S.C., our civil rights attorneys in Milwaukee have been standing up for people abused by the police and government for decades. Altogether, our team of lawyers has more than 100 years of total legal experience that we can bring to each case we handle. If you want to fearlessly seek justice and compensation after being subjected to illegal search and seizures, contact us online or call (414) 455-1639 today.