Under the 4th Amendment of the United States Constitution, you are protected from unreasonable search or seizure by the police. “Search” includes the searching of your person (including pockets and purse), your home, your car, or other property in which you have the reasonable expectation to privacy. In recent times, courts have found that the 4th Amendment also applies to searches of your cell phones. In order for a search to be allowed under the law, police must generally have a search warrant. There are some exceptions to this requirement, though the majority of searches will require a warrant. Just because police have a search warrant, however, does not mean that the warrant was legitimately obtained. In addition, many police try to push the limits of searches without a warrant or without other justification. In either situation, if a police search occurred, you should immediately consult with a Miami search warrant attorney who can evaluate your situation.
In order for a police officer to obtain a warrant, they must show evidence to a judge or magistrate to support probable cause that a search is warranted. Probable cause means that the police reasonably believe – based on more than a hunch – that a search of the location will uncover evidence of a crime. The location of a search must be described in detail and must be specific and they must specify the type of evidence for which they are searching. Police must provide a legitimate basis for why they suspect the evidence is there and must swear to their statements in front of the judge. If the judge finds there is probable cause for a search, they can grant a warrant.
In too many cases, police may exaggerate or even fabricate evidence to support a particular search. In addition, a judge may grant a warrant when there is not enough evidence to support probable cause. An experienced attorney can challenge an invalid warrant to have any evidence that stemmed from the warrant suppressed from your case.
Illegal searches can happen in different ways. First, a search will be unlawful if it is conducted in the following circumstances:
The police have no search warrant or an invalid warrant;
The police exceed the scope of the warrant (e.g. search outside of the locations specified in the warrant);
Police conduct a search without a warrant and without a valid exception.
If the police conduct an illegal search, they have violated your 4th Amendment rights. Any evidence found in an illegal search should be suppressed and should not be used against you in a criminal case. Suppression of such evidence can often lead to dismissal of your criminal charges.