Search and SeizureSteven Medvin
January 11, 2011 — 1,429 views
Search and seizure is a legal procedure used mainly in common and civil laws. It is formally defined as the procedure used by the authorities (mainly police officers) and/or their agents, to search a person and/or his/her property. This takes place if suspicion of, or if an actual crime has been committed. The findings of the search are then seized, and used in the court of law as evidence for or against the crime committed.
There are certain rights and regulations that must be obeyed and followed with respects to these procedures, as per laws in order. The fourth amendment of the Constitution of the United States, explains, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures...". This basically states that every citizen of the United States has a personal right to privacy of their own person and their owned belongings.
Some of the search and seizure regulations with respects to laws and court procedures are as follows:
The Search Must be Valid: To perform a valid search, with respects to the court of law, there are several musts that should occur. One or more of these actions can result in a valid search, validated by the regulated court system.
Voluntary Consent by the Person or Owner of Searchable Properties: The owner of the property, or the individual them self must consent to being searched. If this is witnessed by two or more officials or authorities, the search can be me made. In cases wherein this may occur, these officials are not required to inform the possible suspect that they can refuse this search (requesting a search warrant). It is always in an individual's best interest to understand these rights.
A Search Warrant Must be Obtained: The authorities looking to search a person or property, must obtain a valid search warrant from the court system. This search warrant must be presented to the owner of such properties, as information that the search is lawfully acceptable.
With respects to automobiles, the pre-search requirement expectations tend to be lowered. With reasonable suspicion the authorities and/or their agents are able to search a vehicle if they suspect crime or criminal activity is in effect. This method of search is allowable due to ‘exigent circumstances'. With this method, the authorities are under the belief that evidence may be destroyed if not found quickly, or that the suspicious property may immediately be of harm to citizens.
If the search is not valid in a case regarding either a person, property or automobile, the information gathered cannot be used against the suspect in a court of law. This makes authorities act extremely carefully in collecting the necessary data to complete a search.
As always, it is of best interest of any suspected individual to speak with an attorney regarding their legal rights, with respects to search and seizure. Defense in a court of law, can be a financial catastrophe, often requiring lawsuit funding. Being prepared and informed is often of great assistance.
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