Unlawful search and seizure
Here in the United States, citizens are protected against unlawful search and seizure under our Fourth Amendment. In addition, if an illegal search is performed by law enforcement, federal or otherwise, anything that is found will not allowed to be used as evidence against you in a court of law. This type of protection is found under the exclusionary rule. One question many of my clients often ask is about whether or not your home or property may be searched without police or federal agents first obtaining a search warrant. Remember, a search warrant is granted when and only when a judge is convinced that there is probable cause for criminal activity in or around your house, business, or other property. In such cases, the judge can issue a search warrant that will allow officers a legal search. There are some circumstances, however, when search warrants are not necessary and police may search your home without one. Some of those circumstances include instances when you give consent for officers to search your home without coercion, when evidence of criminal activity is in plain view for officers, when you are physically arrested at your home (e.g. domestic abuse), or there are pressing circumstances, such as someone else’s life being in danger. To have your rights protected, it is important to understand different circumstances that allow officers to search your property. If officers ask to search your home, tell them no. Tell them they may only enter if a warrant is provided. If for some reason you believe that you have been arrested after an unlawful search and seizure, contact Western Pennsylvania criminal defense attorney Gary Gerson today for a free consultation at 412-219-6875.