How to Make a Successful Challenge to Illegal Search and Seizure

  • Post last modified:July 9, 2024

As a United States citizen, you have the right to privacy. Sometimes, police officers have a legitimate reason for why they want to search your car or your property. There are proper procedures for them to go about doing that. Other times, they don’t have a valid warrant or they might take certain liberties with the current situation. Sometimes they will attempt to gain access illegally by playing on your lack of knowledge about your rights.

If this happens to you, you have every right to file a valid grievance claim against the local police department or whatever enforcement agency illegally tried to break the law. Because you have rights and you’re protected by the Constitution, successfully challenging an illegal search and seizure of your property is very possible case to win. Winning such a case would most likely require the services of a Long Beach criminal defense attorney.

Your Rights Under the Constitution

If you’re a United States citizen, then you’re protected by the United States Constitution. In particular, the fourth amendment gives every private citizen the right of privacy. Within that right of privacy, you are protected against any type of unreasonable search or seizure. This can incorporate any type of private property in which you all, such as your home, your car, your land, your purse or wallet, bags you might be transporting with you, or anything else you own.

In the event of an illegal search and seizure, you have every right to tell the police officer that you’re protected by the fourth amendment. As the fourth amendment that gives you the right of a private citizen to not be subjected to unreasonable search and seizure. In most instances, this would prevent the police officer searching your property. They can still perform other types of checks, such as bringing their K9 officer around your vehicle to sniff for drugs.

If the K9 gives a positive hit, then law enforcement has every right to search your property without a search warrant. All they need is a reasonable cause to suspect something illegal is going on. Whether you can actually stop the search from happening at the time it’s happening is debatable. You can scream “4th Amendment” all you want to they will still search your property. This is why the best place to fight illegal search and seizure is in the courtroom.

Your Long Beach criminal defense lawyer will know how to challenge a search that was performed without a warrant and without your permission. There may be other issues or circumstances that the lawyer can use to fight back against the illegal search and seizure of property, which is why hiring a defense attorney will be highly profitable in overturning the case.

Obtaining a Warrant

One tool police officers have to make a search and seizure is by requesting a warrant from a judge. They must provide a valid search warrant which is often permission granted by a judge after the officer has explained exactly what’s going on. The officer might have a reasonable cause to want a warrant to be issued. This is usually based on suspicion of illegal activity at the location in which the officer wants to search. If the officer gets a valid search warrant, that overrides your challenge based on the fourth amendment.

During the search, if an officer finds something that’s illegal, such as guns that were illegally purchased or is in violation of the law, like stolen property, drugs, and/or alcohol (open container), the officer can take it. The case against you will be built upon the items taken from your possession and charges will most likely be issued by the prosecutor. That doesn’t mean this is the end of the story. Sometimes the search warrant is invalidated.

An Invalid Search Warrant

No police officers perfect. They may obtain a valid search warrant, but they use it in such a way that it invalidates or goes beyond the scope of the search warrant itself. They may even lie about having a search warrant or won’t acquire it legally but will still search the property without it in clear violation of the fourth amendment. Sometimes they expect your knowledge on the subject to be lacking and take advantage.

This is certainly unchallengeable in court. You should never allow your rights to be trampled upon. In this case, any charges brought against you can’t be dismissed if the police officer did not obtain a legal search warrant. Your criminal defense lawyer would then ask that any evidence found after it was illegally searched and seized from your property be dismissed as evidence against you.

What is a Valid Search Warrant?

The typical search warrant has at least four different valid requirements. First, it must be filed by an officer in good faith, meaning that they have a legitimate concern or reasonable suspicion of illegal activity. In that, the warrant must also require that there is probable cause for the officer to search the property. Third, the warrant must be issued by a third-party judge who is neutral to the situation and not in any way associated with the case. Lastly, the search warrant must be specific and what is allowed to be searched.

If a police officer violates any of these requirements, that provide you with a legal opportunity to challenge the case on the grounds of illegal search and seizure. If you have any reason to doubt the authenticity of the police officer who performed the search on illegal grounds, even if something was found, you have an opportunity to get the case overturned. This is why it’s super important to immediately hire a criminal defense attorney to help make that case in a court of law.