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Searches & Arrests

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution provides that:

"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."


A search warrant authorizes police to conduct a search of a specific place for specific persons or property. In order for a warrant to be issued, a judge must determine that there is probable cause and then must approve the warrant. Probable cause means that it is more likely than not that the specific items to be searched for are connected with criminal activities and that they will be found in the place being searched. The general rule is that warrants are required for searches; however warrants are not required under certain circumstances, some examples are as follows:

  • Searches incident to arrest: officers are allowed to search your person for their safety if they are placing you under arrest.
  • Automobile searches: if you're arrested in a vehicle, the police can search the inside of your vehicle. Probable cause is necessary if the officer wants to search your entire car - i.e. your glove-box and trunk.
  • Exigent circumstances: searches are allowed in certain emergency circumstances, such as when the police fear that evidence will be destroyed.
  • Plain view: police do not need a search warrant when they see an object that is in plain view of an officer who has the right to be in the position to have that view.
  • Consent: if you consent to a search of your person, your vehicle, or your home, police are not required to have a warrant.

In cases where an investigating officer violates a person’s Fourth Amendment rights, and the search and/or seizure is found unlawful, the evidence will be kept out of the criminal case. This means that if a person’s home was searched, but there was no search warrant or other circumstances that would have justified the search and seizure, any evidence gathered during that time will not be allowed in court. Contact our firm for a free case consultation, so that we can evaluate the circumstances of your matter in order to determine the best possible defense.


An officer must have probable cause to conduct an arrest. After you're placed under arrest, you are protected by valuable constitutional rights. The officer must read you your Miranda rights before conducting a custodial interrogation. Two important rights you need to remember are the right to remain silent and the right to have an attorney. After your arrest, you don't have to answer any questions, other than identifying information, to police or investigators, until you have an attorney present. If you ask for an attorney, the questioning must cease and you must be given the chance to contact one.

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