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What You Need to Know About Unlawful Searches & Seizures


Being searched by law enforcement can be an incredibly overwhelming and intimidating experience, but this is not the time to give up your rights. Keep in mind that any time a search and seizure is conducted, several rules and exceptions apply, which are all important for you to know. While this might be a stressful situation, the last thing you want is to have your rights violated.

Below is a lost of some commonly asked questions regarding illegal searches and seizures and their accompanying answers:

  • When does a police investigation officially become a search? There are two other questions you will need to ask yourself to determine whether or not a police investigation has turned into a search. First, did you expect a certain degree of privacy? Second, was there a reasonable expectation of privacy? An investigation becomes a search when the investigation intrudes on an individual’s legitimate expectation of privacy. If a person’s expectation of privacy was not reasonable, the Fourth Amendment would not consider this a search.
  • How private is private property? Generally, your home and property within your home are considered private and, if the police want to enter your property to find evidence, they would need a search warrant to do so. That said, there are some exceptions to this rule. For example, in order to prevent a suspect from destroying evidence, police can perform a search and seizure without a warrant. Additionally, police officers are allowed to listen in on conversations or take pictures of your home as long as this does not involve invasive, sophisticated equipment. Any evidence acquired through more advanced technology will require a warrant. If you consent to a search of your home, law enforcement will not need a warrant for the evidence they find to be considered valid and, if anything is in plain sight, this would also render a warrant unnecessary.
  • I was told the police have a search warrant. What is it and how did they get it? Search warrants are issued by either judges or magistrates, granting permission to police or other law enforcement officials to conduct a search of a specific location or person and to seize any evidence that indicates criminal activity. Before searching a person or premise, law enforcement agencies are required to apply for a search warrant and must have reliable information to back-up this request. If a search is conducted without probable cause, without a search warrant, and an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, any evidence obtained would be inadmissible and it would likely be considered an illegal search and seizure.
  • What can the police do when they have a search warrant? Search warrants provide law enforcement officials the authority to enter a premise without the permission of the owner to search for evidence in specific locations listed in the warrant. This means that, if a search warrant allows law enforcement officers to search a bathroom for illegal drugs, the search would be confined to the bathroom. In situations where police officers need to ensure their safety and the safety of others, they would be permitted to search beyond the scope of a warrant.
  • Are search warrants required for every search? Given much of what we have already reviewed, the answer to this question is no, they are not always required. If you consent to a search, there is an emergency situation, or something was in plain view, these could all be reasons for law enforcement to conduct a search without having to apply for a warrant.

Search and Seizure Attorney in Milwaukee

If you believe evidence was collected based on an illegal search and seizure, you should not take this violation of your Fourth Amendment rights lightly. At the Law Offices of Christopher J. Cherella, our criminal defense attorney in Milwaukee has the experience, knowledge, and insight to defend your constitutional rights and ensure the justice system does not take advantage of you.

Get started on your case today and call us at (414) 882-8382 to obtain the representation you deserve during this difficult time.

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