Arrest, search and seizure are terms and procedures that individuals may think they understand, but in reality, do not. These laws are nuanced and have quirks that can trip up both individuals and law enforcement alike. Individuals are free from unreasonable search and seizures thanks to the Fourth Amendment to the US Constitution, but this doesn’t exempt us from all searches. Not every search is deemed unreasonable. Let’s take a closer look at the terms arrest, search and seizure.
An Overview Of What The Terms Arrest, Search And Seizure Mean
A search means law enforcement has consent, a warrant, or exigent circumstances to search your property or being. Outside of those exceptions, individuals have an expectation of privacy. Police must meet that standard to search you or your belongings and property per the Fourth Amendment.
If law enforcement does not have enough proof to obtain a warrant from a judge or exigent circumstances, they can always ask an individual for consent to search. If you are in this situation, understand that you have the right to say no. If you choose to consent, that consent should be given freely and not by coercion or duress caused by law enforcement.
As a rule, if you allow an officer in your home, they can seize anything in plain view. Any defense attorney would strongly advise against consenting to a search without a warrant. Require law enforcement to use legal procedures to gain permission to your property and being. If officers are asking, it is likely they don’t have probable cause for a search.
When law enforcement places you under arrest, this means they have some type of evidence to indicate you were involved in criminal activity. Officers will take you into their custody, book you at the police station (the booking process will involve the individual being fingerprinted and photographed), and hold you until you are either released or brought before a judge to ask for bail.
Examples Of Reasonable Search And Seizures
Not every search request from the police is considered unreasonable or require them to have a warrant. These are some examples of reasonable searches the police could perform.
- Drugs or alcohol in plain view of law enforcement can trigger a warrantless search of your car or home.
- The smell of drugs or alcohol is noticeable to the officer.
- There is a threat to public safety posed by the individual.
- An individual fled from authorities and left possessions behind.
- An individual’s vehicle or possessions have been impounded or are in police custody.
Law enforcement must have probable cause or your consent. Be sure to make note of what led up to any warrantless searches and relay that to your attorney. Your attorney can make sure your rights were not violated during the search.
Examples Of Unreasonable Search And Seizure
This list could become lengthy if every example was noted. Since that isn’t possible, here are some common examples that could happen to you.
- Police search your vehicle after a traffic stop for speeding.
- Police enter your home without a warrant and begin a search.
- Officers stop you on the street and go through your purse or bag.
- Officers stop you and search your pockets and pat you down without giving a reason.
If any of these happen to you, contact a criminal defense attorney right away.
What Happens After A Search And Seizure?
If law enforcement doesn’t find anything of value during their search, you are free to go. If officers do find something that indicates criminal activity, you will be arrested. Should you be arrested after a search and seizure, use your phone call to contact a criminal defense attorney and invoke your Miranda rights to not speak.
Your attorney may be able to find a basis to challenge the search. Do not speak without an attorney present and give law enforcement any additional information until your lawyer says it’s ok. The seizure of the items and your arrest may be thrown out of court, and you don’t want to say anything that could jeopardize that.
Enlist Vinas And Graham For Your Arrest, Search And Seizure Case
Vinas & Graham are a top Houston law firm with years of experience dealing with arrest, search and seizure cases. Contact us today for your consultation and follow us on Facebook to keep up with the latest updates.