Search and Seizure Rules
Search and seizure provides a way for law enforcement to secure evidence in a criminal case. If you are suspected of a crime, your home, car, cell phone, computer or other property can be searched for evidence. However, every individual has the constitutional right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment in the Bill of Rights states this inherent right, and similar protections are written into the California Constitution. At the Law Office of Gregory H. Comings we represent clients charged with domestic violence, drug crimes, weapons offenses, violent crimes, and more. As a dedicated Riverside criminal defense lawyer, Attorney Comings has extensive knowledge of criminal procedure that fuels his advocacy for people facing criminal charges.California and Federal Search and Seizure Rules
California law protects residents from illegal search and seizure. This means that law enforcement cannot unlawfully search their person or property. Evidence cannot be seized without a proper search warrant or a legal exception that is recognized by courts. If police do not have a warrant or the situation does not meet the exception to the warrant requirement, then the prosecution may not be able to proceed with criminal charges.
Generally, police must have a search warrant when you have a legitimate expectation of privacy in the place being searched, or the property that is being searched. A reasonable expectation of privacy exists for those places that you control. This usually includes the trunk of your car, or your house. Law enforcement is prohibited from searching these areas without cause. This must be “probable cause,” knowledge of facts sufficient to support a reasonable belief.
There are certain situations in which the police may have the right to search or seize your property. These include the possession of a valid warrant, consent, probable cause, and no reasonable expectation of privacy. In order to obtain a search warrant, law enforcement must set forth a reasonable showing that there is evidence a particular person committed a crime, or that a crime was committed. Typically, if you have been lawfully arrested, you may be searched. For instance, law enforcement may conduct a pat-down search for weapons.
Police may request your consent in order to avoid securing a warrant. You do not have to consent to a search. Consent may occur if, for example, your spouse provided consent to a search of your home based on suspicion of a drug offense.
A reasonable expectation of privacy does not exist when you are in a public area. Your person and your property may not be protected in the same way. If you are in a restaurant, for example, and a security camera captures an illegal act, you may not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.The Exclusionary Rule for Illegally Obtained Evidence
When evidence is obtained illegally, or law enforcement fails to abide by procedures, that evidence must be excluded from use in the criminal case. In other words, the exclusionary rule holds that evidence illegally obtained cannot be part of the trial. The outcome of a case may be drastically changed if central evidence is excluded. A skilled defense lawyer can explain how the exclusionary rule may apply in your specific case.
Another doctrine related to search and seizure rules is “fruit of the poisonous tree.” This holds that any evidence indirectly found as a result of an illegal search must be excluded from court. It is important for defendants to understand that evidence is not automatically excluded because an illegal search and seizure occurred. A criminal defense lawyer must move to suppress the evidence and prove the illegality of the act and that the evidence is inadmissible.Understand Your Legal Rights by Contacting a Skilled Criminal Defense Lawyer in Riverside
Your criminal defense attorney is your advocate. Riverside Attorney Gregory H. Comings fights to uphold your constitutional right to freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. The Law Office of Gregory H. Comings is here to discuss your needs. We can be contacted by phone, (951) 686-3457 or online.