The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches and seizures of personal property. However, by establishing probable cause of your crime, search warrants give law enforcement permission to legally overstep these boundaries. Understanding the execution of search warrants can prove to be vital to your defense because evidence obtained during an invalid search is typically inadmissible in court. Continue reading to learn more about your rights regarding search warrants and know when to reach out to your leading Volusia County criminal defense attorney, Genine Mejia.
Legality of Search Warrants Defined by the Constitution
A mere hunch is not enough for law enforcement to legally enter your home. Police must first create an affidavit, which is a sworn statement that lays out all the information they have obtained from informants or private citizens, then present it to a judge for approval. If this affidavit establishes a probable cause for the alleged crime and convinces the judge that evidence can be found in a certain location, then the judge will issue a search warrant. If done correctly, then this search warrant allows law enforcement to legally enter your personal property and search for evidence.
Additional Information about Search Warrants
Of course, suspects connected to the location of the search defined in the search warrant are not notified beforehand, nor can they challenge the issuance of the warrant. However, after the search has concluded, citizens do have the right to challenge the presumption of reasonable cause laid out in the search warrant. If determined to be invalid, any evidence collected during the search will be inadmissible in court. Furthermore, if any information within the affidavit is found to be false, it constitutes perjury for the law enforcement representative who signed in.
What Law Enforcement Can Do with a Search Warrant
Due to the rigid structure of what must be clearly defined in the affidavit, law enforcement officers are only legally permitted to search the specific location detailed in the warrant or look for the specific evidence documented in the warrant. For example, police cannot enter your home if the warrant is for a yard, nor can they search for drugs if their warrant only notes firearms. That said, any contraband that is found within the legal scope of a search can still be seized. Rely on Daytona Beach criminal lawyers to help your defense by ensuring that the search warrant executed on your personal property was done correctly.
Instances in Which Search Warrants Are Not Necessary
It is important to know that there are still circumstances in which law enforcement officers can search for and seize evidence even without a search warrant. If someone who owns or rents property consents to a search, police can search through only the agreed-upon locations and the court will most likely uphold the legality of the search.
Additionally, police officers do not need warrants to seize evidence that is in plain view of a location where law enforcement can legally be – aptly titled the “plain view” doctrine. For example, if a citizen is legally placed under arrest, it is legal for officers of the law to search their person as well as the location of their immediate personal control, like a car or apartment.
The Bottom Line
If law enforcement officers show up at your home with a search warrant, it is important to remember that you are allowed to read their warrant before or during the search, and officers must provide you with a list of any items they seize. If you have any questions or concerns regarding a search warrant that has been executed on your property, rely on the expertise of Genine Mejia – your top criminal defense attorney Daytona Beach – to help you out. We have a deep understanding of when search warrants can and cannot be legally used. Contact us today and let us help you navigate this situation with the clarity that you deserve.