A person should never have to worry that their home, personal property, or automobile being illegally searched. However, an illegal search and seizure by law enforcement is often the reason that many people become embroiled in the criminal justice system. If you or a family member was arrested after an illegal search by law enforcement, contact an experienced Salt Lake City illegal search and seizure lawyer today.
Illegal searches and seizures can place a defendant in a position where they are unjustly charged for crimes. As a result, a defendant can face months or even years in prison for evidence that law enforcement was not justified in taking. To schedule a free legal consultation to discuss your case, contact Overson Law, PLLC, at (801) 758-2287. You can also contact us online.
Search and Seizure Law in Salt Lake City
The Fourth Amendment dictates the laws of search and seizure to the United States Constitution. The Fourth Amendment states that it is “[T]he 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.”
In accordance with the law stated in the Fourth Amendment, law enforcement must obtain a warrant before performing a search of property belonging to a person. To obtain a valid warrant, law enforcement must have probable cause to search through the belongings or property of another. Probable cause is established when law enforcement has a reasonable belief based on facts and circumstances that a crime occurred at the place to be searched or that a place contains evidence of a crime.
If a judge or other authorized judicial official believes that an officer has satisfied the requirements for probable cause, they will issue a search warrant. However, a valid search warrant must be narrowly tailored to describe with particularity the places to be searched and the items to be seized. For example, law enforcement cannot justify a search into a dresser if they are searching for an item that would not fit into a dresser.
Searching in unauthorized areas or falsifying information to obtain a warrant can lead to a warrant being invalidated. This can mean that evidence seized should be inadmissible in court to be used against a defendant. Although, there is a good-faith exception if law enforcement honestly believed that the warrant was lawfully executed.
To learn more about when a police officer can search personal property or a home without a warrant, you should continue reading and speak with an experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer.
Searches and Seizures that Do Not Require a Warrant
There are a variety of circumstances where law enforcement would not require a warrant to perform a legal search. Evidence seized during these searches will likely be admissible in court against a defendant. The following is a list of circumstances where law enforcement can perform a search and seizure without a warrant.
Plain View Doctrine
The plain view doctrine allows a police officer to perform a search if they find evidence of a crime in plain view. For example, if a police officer pulls over a person for speeding and notices a firearm protruding from the passenger seat, the firearm can be seized if the driver does not legally possess it.
It is important to note that the plain view doctrine can also apply when law enforcement has obtained a valid warrant. For instance, if law enforcement enters a person’s home to perform a search and see drug paraphernalia on top of a coffee table while looking for the items in the warrant, they can seize the paraphernalia as evidence of a drug crime.
Consent is another tactic that law enforcement may use to perform a search of a property. Many people may not be aware of their right to refuse a search or may feel intimidated by law enforcement’s request to search their property that they easily concede.
Note, however, that while consent allows law enforcement to search a property, consent can also be withdrawn at any time. This means that a person could stop law enforcement mid-search and request that they obtain a warrant to continue.
Exigent circumstances can be found in a number of situations. For example, if a police officer hears a person screaming for help inside a home, they can enter the home under the belief that someone’s life is in danger. Additionally, law enforcement can also enter a home if they have a reasonable belief that evidence of a crime will be destroyed.
There are various other situations where a person can be subjected to a legal search without a warrant. If you are concerned about whether your Fourth Amendment rights were violated, you should speak with an experienced attorney as soon as possible.
Our Devoted Salt Lake City Illegal Search and Seizure Attorney is Here for You
If you were a victim of an illegal search and seizure, you should consult with an experienced Salt Lake City illegal search and seizure attorney. Criminal defense attorney Darwin Overson possesses broad experience litigating a variety of complex criminal cases, and he is prepared to fight for you. To schedule a free case evaluation, contact Overson Law, PLLC, at (801) 758-2287.