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What is an Illegal Search and Seizure?

Illegal search and seizure, which is when police search your residence and confiscate property to use against you in court, is a violation of the Fourth Amendment; a criminal defense lawyer can help you exclude illegally obtained evidence from your case.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects against unreasonable search and seizure. This means that police do not have the right to search your property or confiscate your personal belongings or items that are in your possession, except when an investigation into an alleged crime requires this. If the police want to search a person’s property because a pending investigation has led them to believe that they will find evidence of a crime there, they must follow the legal procedures to obtain permission to search. It has to be much more specific than, “He looks like bad news. Let’s search his house and see what we find.” Defendants in criminal cases have the right to argue that pieces of evidence were obtained in violation of the defendant’s Fourth Amendment rights. If you successfully argue that a piece of evidence in your case (such as illegal drugs or a stolen piece of jewelry) was obtained in an unreasonable search, the court will exclude the evidence. This could make it easier to get acquitted, or it could even cause the state to drop the charges. The Atlanta criminal defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can help you exercise your Fourth Amendment rights.

Elements of a Search Warrant

If law enforcement officers want to search your property, they must get permission from a judge. The police must submit a statement about the property they want to search, the evidence they think they will find, the crime that they think this evidence will indicate, and the person that they think committed the crime. The judge will not approve it unless it is sufficiently detailed. “That place looks shady. It is probably a crack house,” is not enough to get a search warrant. If the judge agrees that the search will yield the evidence indicated, he or she will issue a search warrant.

When Can Police Search Your Property Without a Warrant?

Police need a search warrant to enter a residence or other private property belonging to an individual. When you are out in public, police can search the property in your immediate vicinity, such as your backpack, purse, or jacket, if they have probable cause. At traffic stops, police may find probable cause to search the car if they see drug paraphernalia or open containers of alcoholic beverages, or if the driver appears intoxicated. Likewise, police have the right to search property that goes through security scanners at airports or federal buildings if they see what appears to be an illegal item.

Contact an Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer

A criminal defense lawyer can help you if you are facing criminal charges after law enforcement executed a search warrant on your property. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia, about juvenile cases.