When Does a Police Search Become Illegal?


A search conducted by police is a frightening experience that no one wants to go through. Many people mistakenly assume that all law enforcement officers have the authority to search their person and/or property. However, police officers have strict guidelines regarding when and under what circumstances they can conduct a search. Here’s what you need to know about police searches and what to do if you are arrested after an illegal search.

Define Whether a Search Occurred

In order to prove illegal search, you must first prove that a search actually occurred. A search deviates from normal police work when privacy is involved. In order to be considered a search, police must investigate in a way that intrudes upon a person’s reasonable expectation for privacy.

Constitutional Rights Against Illegal Search and Seizure

The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from illegal search and seizure:

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.

What Do Police Officers Need for Legal Searches?

In a legal search, officers must have probable cause. Probable cause is defined as the substantiated belief that a crime has taken or is taking place. Or, the police must have a search warrant. There is an exception in cases of emergency. Police are always allowed to search with the property owner’s consent.

What to Do If You’re the Victim of an Illegal Search

If you are arrested for a crime and believe the police conducted an illegal search, you might use this as a defense strategy. If you show that officers did not legally search your person and/or your property, any evidence could be omitted from court. In fact, this can be very helpful in getting a case dismissed or charges reduced.

Contact Rancho Cucamonga Criminal Defense today to learn more about your rights during police searches and to get help against criminal charges. Call now for a consultation to discuss your case in detail at 909-689-4292.