Your Rights Against Unreasonable Searches and Seizures in California
Under the 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, you have the right to be protected against unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. If you feel that you have been the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, contact our experienced attorneys at Wallin & Klarich today to see how we can help you protect your rights.
What Is an Unreasonable Search and Seizure?
An unreasonable search and seizure is a violation of the 4th Amendment, which seeks to protect people’s reasonable expectations of privacy against government officers. Searches and seizures are deemed unreasonable if they are executed in one of the following ways:
- Without a legal search warrant signed by a judge
- Without probable cause to believe that there is criminal evidence
- Extending the lawful scope of the search and seizure
What Is a Search Warrant?
A search warrant is a document that authorizes law enforcement to search a person or place for criminal evidence. In order for a search warrant to be legal, it must meet the following elements:
- Supported by probable cause
- Affirmed under oath to a neutral detached magistrate
- State with particularity the place to be searched and person or things to be seized.
If these elements are not all met, the warrant is considered invalid and any search or seizure is unlawful. However, certain exceptions to the warrant requirement do exist. These exceptions allow law enforcement officers to:
- Seize items in “plain view” during a lawful search even if they don’t have a warrant for those items
- Search automobiles without a warrant if they have probable cause to suspect it contains evidence of criminal activity
- Perform warrantless searches if it is incident to a lawful arrest
- Perform warrantless searches and seizures in an emergency to prevent physical violence or destruction of evidence
- Perform quick and limited search of premises without a warrant
What Is the Exclusionary Rule?
The exclusionary rule provides that evidence that has been illegally seized must be excluded from criminal trials. This means that if you were subject to an unreasonable search and seizure, any evidence found cannot be used against you in court. Furthermore, if such evidence led law enforcement officers to additional evidence that they would not have otherwise located, the exclusionary rule applies to the newly discovered evidence as well. The purpose of the exclusionary rule is to prevent law enforcement officers from abusive searches and seizures and to provide remedies to those whose rights have been violated.
What Should I Do If I Have Been Subject to an Unreasonable Search and Seizure?
Fortunately, if you have been the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, any evidence obtained from that search and seizure must be suppressed and cannot be used against you in trial. However, the first thing you should do is contact a skilled criminal defense attorney. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress the unlawfully obtained evidence before your trial even begins. This is called a Penal Code 1538.5 motion and asks the court to exclude evidence obtained by an invalid search and seizure. If the motion is granted and the excluded evidence was a critical part of the prosecution’s case, then your attorney may be able to get your charges dismissed altogether.
Contact Wallin & Klarich Today
If you have been subject to an unreasonable search and seizure in California, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. At Wallin & Klarich, we seek to protect your rights against violations on your home, person, and property. With 40+ years of experience, our attorneys have helped thousands of clients in a wide range of cases, and we have the skills and resources to help you avoid hefty fines and jail time.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you.
Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.