search and seizure definition

Search and Seizure Law

The right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure is protected by both the 4th Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I, Section VI of the Illinois Constitution of 1970.

The Fourth Amendment states:

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

Whereas, Article I, Section VI of the Illinois Constitution states:

The people shall have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and other possessions against unreasonable searches, seizures, invasions of privacy or interceptions of communications by eavesdropping devices or other means. No warrant shall issue without probable cause, supported by affidavit particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized.

Based upon the language of the 4th Amendment a search and seizure is reasonable if supported by a valid warrant. A warrant is valid if probable cause authorizes the search and seizure. However, a warrantless search and seizure is valid under several exceptions.

What are some of the Exceptions to a Warrantless Search and Seizure?

No Reasonable Expectations of Privacy

The 4th Amendment only protects an individual against an unreasonable search and seizure when that person has a legitimate expectation of privacy in the property that was subjected to the search or seizure. For example, a person does not have a legitimate expectation of privacy in possessing contraband or in abandoned property.

Consent

A constitutionally invalid search and seizure can be valid if the owner of the property voluntarily consents to the search and seizure. Whether the consent is voluntary depends upon the totality of the circumstances. Further, the police officer does not need to advise a suspect that they can refuse the search and seizure. In certain situations, a third-party may consent to the search and seizure.

Exigent Circumstances

Exigent circumstances also can support a warrantless search and seizure. Exigent circumstances are situations where the police officer must act quickly and there is not sufficient time to obtain a search warrant. The exigent circumstances exception applies only situations where there is a reasonable belief that evidence is in imminent danger of being removed or destroyed. However, probable cause must support the police action that leads up to the exigent circumstance.

Conclusion

The 4th Amendment protects people against unreasonable search and seizures. Generally, a search and seizure is valid if there is a warrant authorizing the search and seizure. However, the Supreme Court has created multiple exceptions to the general rule.

Whether your constitutional rights have been violated by an unreasonable search and seizure depends on the facts of your case. At Jaleel Law P.C. we have the experience to handle your case, we have successfully fought and defended individuals that have suffered unreasonable searches and seizures. Contact us to discuss how we can help you prove that your 4th Amendment rights have been violated.