If you are ever faced with a situation in which a police officer asks to search your home, vehicle, or electronic device, you may be wondering what your rights are. Knowing your rights can help prevent an unauthorized search and seizure. This will also allow you to know when you can politely decline a search from an officer with proper legal justification. You can also rest assured that if the search is conducted, the evidence will be inadmissible in criminal court. If you have questions about any of this, be sure to talk with a Tennessee criminal law lawyer for guidance.
When Police Can Conduct a Search and Seizure
Police can only conduct a search and seizure under certain legal circumstances. Anytime an officer conducts a search without legal justification, the evidence collected will not be permitted in court. Your rights in this matter are protected by the fourth amendment, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures.
One of the most well-known ways police can do a legal search is when they have a search warrant. Whenever an officer asks to search your home, ask them to show you the search warrant and if they try to ask you questions,
remember your Miranda rights. Politely decline the search if there is no search warrant and tell them you do not want to answer questions without a lawyer.
Reasonable searches can be conducted in areas around the location the search warrant permits, as long as there is justification for doing so. Vehicles can be searched if there is reason to believe the evidence would be removed before a search warrant can be obtained.
Officers can also conduct a search if you consent to this, whether there is a search warrant or not. Be careful about doing this and remember, declining a search is not a reasonable cause for suspicion. Searches may also be done where no privacy exists, like the outside of your car.
When Police Cannot Conduct a Search
Instances, when a search cannot be conducted, happen when there is no search warrant and you did not give consent for the search to occur. Any evidence found during an illegal or unreasonable search cannot be used against you in court. These same rules apply to your home or vehicle. However, vehicle searches can happen when a reasonable suspicion of a crime exists.
Police cannot do a search if your spouse consents, but you do not consent as long as what is being searched is under your control. A laptop, for example, could fit this category. However, this rule can become complex when you and your spouse share a computer. Talking with a lawyer about this can help you work out the various factors.