An unlawful search is a violation of the Fourth Amendment
If you are facing criminal charges, law enforcement officers may have searched your home or vehicle for evidence of the crime you allegedly committed. However, not all searches and seizures are legal. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects people’s rights to be secure in their persons and property by preventing law enforcement or other governmental officials from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures.
What makes a search and seizure lawful?
Generally, law enforcement must have a legitimate reason to conduct a search for the search to be lawful. The officer must generally have at least one of the following to conduct a lawful search:
- Warrant: Valid search or arrest warrant signed by a judge.
- Consent: Voluntary consent to conduct the search.
- Probable cause: Reasonable belief that the area to be searched contains evidence of a crime.
What happens if my search and seizure was unlawful?
Evidence that was illegally obtained in violation of the Constitutional protections that are afforded to every individual in the United States can be suppressed at trial and, therefore, cannot be utilized by the prosecution. This evidence is generally known as “fruit from the poisonous tree.”
Many cases have been won, not because the alleged defendant did nothing wrong, but because the prosecution illegally obtained the evidence of the alleged wrongdoing. It is important to note that it isn’t necessarily what a defendant did or not did not do that is important, but what the prosecution can prove the defendant did.
If you believe you were subjected to an unreasonable search and seizure in Florida, you have several legal options available. A criminal defense attorney in your area can advise you on next steps.