Know Your Rights: What to Do When Pulled Over in Texas
search and seizure

What Are Your Rights During A Search And Seizure

You are empowered with rights under the U.S. Constitution, even if you have been suspected of a crime. The Fourth Amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath, or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Texas has its own version of this provision under Article 1, Section 9 of the Texas Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment is all about privacy, but there is a limit to what privacy an individual is entitled to as the suspect of a crime. Law enforcement can override that privacy and conduct a search and seizure, but they must work within the provisions and constraints of the law.

What Can Law Enforcement Lawfully Do?

Law enforcement has the right to reasonable searches and seizures when they can demonstrate probable cause and follow legal procedure.

In most cases, a valid warrant must be issued by the court. A warrant request must show probable cause and include a sworn affidavit that outlines a detailed description of the area that will be searched, why the property is being searched, and what property they intend to seize. The search and seizure is then limited to these areas specified in the warrant and nothing more.

There are exceptions to a warrant requirement, however. These include:

  • Consent to the search
  • A search that is “incident to a lawful arrest”
  • Evidence that is in plain view
  • Evidence that is located in a place where there is no expectation of the suspect’s privacy
  • Expectation that evidence was going to be destroyed
  • Probable cause and search of a vehicle.

A Suspect’s Rights In A Search And Seizure

If law enforcement wants to enter your home for a search without a warrant, you have the constitutional right to deny their entry. If you do consent to a search, they can seize anything in view. But if you deny entry, law enforcement can come back later with a valid warrant.

It’s important to keep in mind that denying a search, while it is your right, may be used against you in some cases. You will want to explore those options and consequences with your lawyer.

If you feel that you were subject to an unlawful search and seizure, it is critical to get the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney as it will have an effect on whether the items seized will be allowable into evidence.

Defending Against An Illegal Search And Seizure

A skilled Texas criminal defense attorney will always look at how evidence was collected and whether a search and seizure was conducted lawfully under the Fourth Amendment.

When evidence has been obtained illegally, the exclusionary rule deems that it must be excluded from evidence and cannot be considered. In this case, your attorney will file a motion to suppress the illegally obtained evidence so it cannot be used against you.

Your Rights During A Search And Seizure Answered By Experienced Criminal Defense Attorneys

If you find yourself a suspect of a crime, you are still entitled to your constitutional rights. Getting the assistance of an experienced Houston criminal defense attorney is critical to safeguarding your legal rights and ensuring that evidence was collected lawfully.

At Vinas & Graham, PLLC, we work diligently to protect your constitutional rights regarding search and seizure practices. Contact us to schedule a confidential consultation. You may also follow us on Facebook to understand how we protect our clients against criminal charges.

Houston Criminal Law Firm