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What is illegal search and seizure?

On Behalf of | May 8, 2019 | Drug Charges, Wheeling Criminal Law Blog |

If you are under arrest for drug charges in West Virginia, it is important you understand your rights. A good defense attorney will examine facts around search and seizure to see if legal authorities violated your protections under the Fourth amendment.

According to the Civil American Liberties Union, the Fourth Amendment in the Constitution outlines that people and their property shall be free from intrusive and unwarranted searches. As a result, there are certain requirements and restrictions that law enforcement officers must follow, and these include having probable cause and a valid search warrant to conduct a search. ACLU indicates that it is more common for persons of color to be victims of unreasonable, or illegal, search and seizure.

FindLaw discusses that search and seizure rights apply to a variety of situations. These include:

  • Arrests
  • Vehicle search after a traffic stop
  • Getting questioned by authorities on the street
  • Entrance into a home or place of business to conduct a search
  • Confiscation of private property 

In order to conduct a lawful search and seizure, an officer must first think there is probable cause that the suspect broke the law. The officer must then obtain an arrest or search warrant before going through with a search or confiscating any property.

Being able to prove illegal search and seizure is an important aspect of defense. With it, the judge must throw out any evidence, including a confession, obtained after the arrest or search. For some drug charges, this means the entire case may go away. There are many complications surrounding the details of search and seizure, however, so it is important to hire an attorney who is familiar with criminal law.