In a criminal prosecution evidence used in the case is frequently the result of some type of search. Whether the search was a search of your person, your automobile, or your home it must be done in accordance with the law. If the search was not conducted properly, it could be declared an illegal search and seizure. In San Diego, evidence obtained as a result of an illegal search may be excluded at trial, meaning it cannot be used against you.
The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects our rights with regard to searches and seizures. The amendment reads:
“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.”
As is the case with many other parts of the Constitution, the language in the Fourth Amendment has been argued over, litigated, and picked apart by scholars, educators and courts ever since its creation. Over the years, our rights found in the Fourth Amendment have slowly eroded as the U.S. Supreme Court found one exception after the other to the warrant requirement found in the Fourth Amendment. Despite this, we do still have rights that stem from the Fourth Amendment. Law enforcement officers cannot simply conduct a search whenever they want for whatever reason they want. As is the case in most legal issues, the key to whether a search was legal or not can be found in the details of the search itself.
Generally speaking, our homes retain the most Fourth Amendment protection. Only under very specific circumstances can a search of your home be conducted without a warrant. Though your automobile, place of business, and person may be searched without a warrant under far more circumstances than your home the police must still have a reason and must follow proper protocol. Only an experienced California criminal defense attorney can evaluate the specific facts and circumstances of your case to advise you whether a search was illegal in your case; however, if the search was illegal it can be extremely helpful to your defense.
As a general rule, evidence that is obtained from an illegal search in San Diego cannot be introduced at trial. Often, if a search is determined to have been conducted illegally the prosecution’s entire case falls apart. For this reason it is imperative that you never consent to a search and that you always have an experienced San Diego criminal defense attorney review the details of a search to determine if it was conducted illegally.