When police stop people or ask to search their cars or homes, it is important for them to understand their rights. State and federal laws place limits on the manner in which police conduct seizures and searches. Florida has adopted the U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment limitations on searches and seizures into its own constitution at Art. 12, section 1.
The Warrant Requirement
Under both Florida and federal law, people enjoy the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. In general, police must first seek a warrant from a judge in order to conduct such a search. The court must then find that law enforcement has probable cause. This means law enforcement must have sufficient rationale that they will find evidence of a crime in the area they intend to search. Similarly, people have a right to be free from unreasonable seizures. Limits to these rights do exist, however.
Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement
In some cases, a police officer may seize or search a person and their property without first getting a warrant. Examples include when they chase a fleeing suspect who runs inside of a home. In that scenario, the police may pursue the person inside. Another example is when officers, confronted by exigent circumstances, enter a home. These circumstances could include screaming or other violent sounds coming from inside. In these situations, they do not need to wait for a warrant. A major exception occurs when a person consents to a search. When an officer asks a person for consent to search, agreeing to allow it waives the warrant requirement.
Know and Assert Your Rights
Remember, you always have the right to decline a search. If a police officer says they are going to search your property or vehicle, be aware of your right not to consent. Many times, the officer does not have enough probable cause to conduct a search, and not giving consent is all it will take to stop a search. Even if you decline consent, if police go ahead with the search, stay calm and do not attempt to stop them. Evidence gained from an illegal search can be deemed inadmissible in a case against you.
Contact an Attorney at the Khonsari Law Group
If an officer conducted an illegal search and seizure, you need legal help. Your attorney, upon reviewing the evidence and reports, may file evidentiary motions seeking suppression of the illegally gathered evidence. Contact us today for your consultation.