The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and Section 13 of Article 1 of the California Constitution share most requirements to investigate and potentially seize any relevant evidence, whether they search your person, your residence, or your car. If you are unsure whether the officers who searched your belongings followed the legal process, you should speak with your lawyer. Making sure that any search and seizure met all the requirements plays a central role in determining which evidence a court can use against you.
If you face criminal accusations, you should always hire a trusted defense attorney to help you navigate the judicial system. While you should cooperate with law enforcement in any situation, you should abstain from answering their questions before speaking with your lawyer. This helps protect your rights and can make a positive difference in securing your desired outcome.
What Are the Legal Requirements for Search and Seizure in California?
In California, law enforcement must have probable cause to perform a search and seizure and they need to have a warrant signed by a judge. To obtain a search warrant, an officer must provide a government official with a valid reason while under oath and neither party must have a personal interest in the situation.
The search warrant must specify the particular location and/or areas that law enforcement may investigate for possible evidence.
Did Your Situation Fit an Exception to Standard Search Warrant Rules?
Under federal and state laws, search and seizure procedures without a warrant are unlawful unless:
- Law enforcement conducted the search with consent
- It was an administrative search like at a border checkpoint or an airport
- The individual investigated had no expectation of privacy
- They had probable cause to search a vehicle
- They performed a “stop and frisk” to ensure an officer’s safety when questioning a suspect
- They performed an emergency search
- They performed an inventory search of an impounded vehicle
- They searched someone during an arrest
- They seized items that were in plain view
Even if your circumstances appear to fit one of those exceptions, your lawyer can nevertheless investigate if law enforcement proceeded appropriately. The burden of proving that an exception was justified falls on the prosecution.
What Happens If I Can Prove the Search and Seizure Was Illegal?
Police officers make mistakes whether during traffic arrests or may not follow all the required steps during a search and seizure procedure. If your criminal defense lawyer can establish that law enforcement obtained any evidence against you illegally, a court cannot use it against you.
Your attorney can use the following laws if they can prove the search and seizure was illegal:
- Exclusionary Rule, in which evidence obtained illegally cannot support the prosecution’s claim
- Fruit of the Forbidden Tree doctrine, in which any evidence derived from an illegal search, arrest, or interrogation may be excluded from court proceedings
Illegal search and seizure can happen in any circumstances, whether in your vehicle, at your home, or your work.
Hire The Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed to Protect Your Future
If you were subjected to a search and seizure, you should reach out to a qualified criminal defense attorney. At The Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed, we have a successful track record of protecting our clients’ rights and helping them secure a positive outcome. With over a thousand cases in the past decade, our firm can play a central role in protecting your future.
You can expect a thorough review of your case and our team can conduct their own investigation to ensure that the search and seizure met all the necessary criteria to be valid during a trial. If we find out that law enforcement obtained any evidence illegally, we can file a motion to suppress evidence.
Attorney Ahmed brings his detailed and current understanding of California’s criminal law to ensure that law enforcement did not violate your civil rights at any point during search and seizure, or any other part of their investigation.
Do you need a reputable criminal defense attorney in the East Bay area? Call The Law Office of Nabiel C. Ahmed today at (510) 907-6600 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation.