If you are stopped without reason and have yourself or your vehicle searched by a police officer, you could be a victim of an illegal search and seizure of your property. It’s important to note that traffic stops involving illegal search and seizure claims are not uncommon, and a defense may use this protection to help you avoid criminal charges or penalties.
The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects your right against illegal searches and seizures. What this means is that legal authorities may not perform a search or seizure when it’s conducted outside of the law. Legal authorities need to have the right permissions or authority before searching your bags, your vehicle or even your home.
Why do you need to be aware of your rights against searches and seizures?
It’s necessary to know when your Fourth Amendment rights are being violated. Why? The police or other government agents may overstep. If they are looking for evidence to use against you in court, then it’s important that you’re able to show that the evidence was collected illegally.
An officer may have conducted an illegal search and seizure if they performed a search without a warrant. Sometimes, they won’t have a warrant but will have probable cause, which is also an acceptable reason for a search or seizure of property in some cases.
Can an officer pat you down during a traffic stop?
Yes, they can. This is a safety protocol. Officers are allowed to pat down the driver or passengers. They don’t need to suspect illegal activity, but a traffic violation must have occurred for the stop to be legal.
Is it appropriate for a narcotics dog to be around your vehicle?
Narcotics detection dogs are allowed to be used outside of a vehicle even without the suspicion that there may be drug crimes taking place.
What should you do if you think you’re a victim of an illegal search and seizure?
The first thing to do is to learn more about the laws that apply to your case. You may want to start building a criminal defense and looking at ways you can protect your civil rights.