The United States Constitution's Fourth Amendment safeguards residents from unjustified search and seizure. This means that the authorities cannot enter your property to search or take anything from your car or home unless they have a warrant to do so. Nonetheless, there are situations where this can apply, such as in an emergency or if you give consent for them to search without a warrant.
If your home is searched and items are removed without a probable cause, a warrant, or your consent, then the search and seizure conducted by the authorities is illegal.
The exclusionary rule does not allow for all pieces of evidence collected by the authorities to be used in court. If the search by the authorities was unjustified and evidence was taken from your property, this will be omitted and may not be used against you in a court hearing. This includes any evidence found anywhere else on the property during the search and seizure operations.
To have evidence omitted in a trial against you, you will have to prove that the search was illegal. Your attorney can help you determine this if you document the events:
- Date, time and where it happened
- The length of the search
- Describe your property before the search and after
- What explanations were given to you by the authorities
- Copies of the warrant and any other document that the authorities gave you.
- Did you give your consent or your objection to the search?
With this detailed information, your lawyer will be able to use it in arguing the legality of the search and the evidence brought against you.
South Carolina law states that a warrant must name the person or place that must be searched and the items the authorities need to find. Therefore, it is crucial to document the area searched by the officers because if the search was conducted in an area not specified in the warrant, then the evidence can be used. Even so, if the authorities find other items that are illegal or seem to be evidence of a crime, they have the right to seize these.
How to Protect Yourself
When officers ask to search your property, home, vehicle or person, you have the right to ask to see the search warrant. The officers know they should give you a copy of the warrant only if you ask for it. Therefore if you don't ask, you will not get it.
Even though you may not have anything to hide, you should not give your permission to a search or seizure by the authorities without a warrant. While it is possible to dispute evidence collected during a search that you agreed to, it will be challenging because you consented to it. The court usually allows this evidence to be presented unless that the search was conducted in an area that you did not agree to, such as the searching of your vehicle when you agreed only to a search of your home.
Contact a Criminal Defense Lawyer
If the authorities approach you with a search warrant or ask you to agree to search, contact a criminal defense lawyer immediately. Our experienced attorneys at Hopkins Law firm will guide you on how to communicate with the authorities and ensure that the search and seizure conducted on your property are lawful and properly documented.