Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

What are the limitations of police in drug searches and seizures?

In the United States, we have the right to privacy, but this right also comes with a limit and, in certain circumstances, a person must give up their privacy when law officials are involved.

Police officers have the authority to conduct searches and seizures if there are reasonable and valid grounds to do so. This is supported by the Fourth Amendment. The police must provide evidence that they have valid grounds to conduct a search or seizure by showing that it is likely that something illegal has taken place and this search will yield evidence in the form of narcotics or other illegal or stolen goods. In certain scenarios, the police must make this case in front of a state judge, who, if satisfied, will provide them with a search warrant. Only then can they proceed with searching for narcotics or illegal goods, but the police may be able to make the search without the warrant as well. Police can make searches and seizures in scenarios where the individual does not have a valid expectation of privacy, for example, if the narcotics or items are openly placed where they are easily visible.The police can conduct a search beyond the parameters of a warrant if there is a threat to the lives of the officers and others or there are special circumstances in effect.

The police are not allowed to conduct searches and seizures without a warrant if the person has the valid expectation of privacy unless there are circumstances that allow for the exception of the warrant. If the drugs or goods confiscated were seized in illegal or invalid searches then they are not admissible as evidence in court. Also, the police cannot use evidence from an invalid search to use as a basis for the search of additional evidence. The police are not allowed to use an affidavit if they have any reasonable doubt about its integrity. Without reasonable and valid suspicion and cause, the police are not allowed to search vehicles or people.

Search and seizure cases can be complex and confusing. It is highly recommended that you consult an experienced attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can review your case and assist you with the process.

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Damico & Stockstill, Attorneys at Law

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