Illegal Search and Seizure
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects its citizens from unlawful search and seizure. Even though this amendment was designed to create privacy protection, determining what is a lawful or unlawful search is difficult. An attorney’s assistance may be necessary to determine if a Florida resident experiences an unlawful search and seizure.
Reasonable Search and Seizure
If police obtain a search warrant or receive permission from a property owner, police have the authority to search that property. If contraband like illegal drugs or weapons is in clear view outside a home or even through a window, it is reasonable for them to search without direct consent or a warrant.
Search warrants may be issued only when there is legal probable cause. When asking for a warrant, police must submit several key pieces of information with their request before the court approves the warrant. The required information includes:
- Name and provide about the specific location they plan to search
- What items they intend to find
- Names of those responsible for those items
Searches of places that are not on the warrant and confiscation of unlisted materials could render the evidence inadmissible.
Types of Searches Police May Conduct in Florida
Search and seizures come in many different styles and situations. Not all require a judge’s authorization but still must occur with legitimate cause and circumstances.
Consent search– When a person gives consent, law enforcement may search and seize any evidence of illegal weapons, drugs or other items, found in the area permitted for that search.
Arrest search– Police have the option to search you for anything illegal, weapons, or evidence they believed you to hide or destroy.
Emergency search– Officers may try to conduct a warrantless search if public safety or critical evidence is at risk.
Plain view search– Seizing of evidence in plain or obvious view or out in open areas is a legal seizure option for law enforcement.
Traffic stop search– Your car may pose a risk for the search and seizure of evidence if the policeman suspects or has reasonable suspicion your vehicle has illegal items in it at a traffic stop.
Florida Illegal Search and Seizure Mistakes
Florida state laws provide specific guidelines and rules that police must follow during a search. Officers who conduct searches that do not follow the law risk denial of any evidence found from that search. If the prosecution’s case relies solely on this ill-gotten evidence, the case may not continue.
Defenses Against Florida Search and Seizure
Because standards of probable cause vary between jurisdictions, many defense attorneys view these types of searches as contestable. Typically, a criminal defense attorney will attempt to suppress any evidence obtained during an illegal search. Other common defenses against search and seizure include:
This defense involves demonstrating that the person who gave consent for the search didn’t have authority to do so. Situations like this happen when law enforcement gets permission from someone who doesn’t live or own the property in question, and any evidence found becomes inadmissible.
Coercion occurs when an officer uses various threats, bribes or causes excessive stress to the property owner to agree to the search. Law enforcement officials who use coercion to get consent for a search will face consequences, and the evidence collected from a coerced search may get excluded from the case.
Fruit of the Poisonous Tree Defense
The concept behind this terminology is that if the source of the evidence is tainted (illegally obtained), then the evidence itself is also tainted. This enables a defense lawyer to possibly get the entire case dismissed or pick it apart during a trial.
Fourth Amendment Violation Defense
The Fourth Amendment was created to prevent law enforcement from illegally gathering evidence in unethical ways. If a court determines that a Fourth Amendment violation occurred, evidence obtained may not be admissible. Officers may not search or seize an individual or property unless they possess:
- An arrest warrant
- A search warrant
- A legitimate belief that a crime has been committed
These types of violations are not a guaranteed dismissal of a case if the prosecution has additional legally obtained proof.
Defend Against Illegal Search and Seizure in Orlando
If you believe that law enforcement officials have captured evidence against you through an illegal search and seizure, it’s critical to speak with an Orlando defense attorney right away. Due to the potential nature of your charges, an attorney must get started on your expense immediately.
At The Umansky Law Firm, we emphasize the importance of knowing your rights when faced with search and seizure situations. This knowledge helps our clients to prevent police from abusing their authority. Our attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience defending and aggressively fighting against illegal law enforcement practices against our clients. If you have experienced a search or seizure that you feel was not lawful, or that law enforcement overstepped their rights, contact us today for a free case evaluation.