D. Scott Rieth Criminal Defense Attorney
941-404-4192 888-352-3179

When, and for what reason, can the police search me?

When suspected of a violent crime, a common concern is whether the police officer acted appropriately, and this can arise when a police officer engages in a search or seizure of a person's property or the person. The person accused of a violent crime may wonder why the police continued to search their property or person, even after he or she was detained. When dealing with the police, the issue is almost always whether the police were acting within the limits of the law.

The ability of the police to engage in a search and seizure are limited by local laws and the U.S. Constitution, specifically the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth Amendment prohibits the police from engaging in an unreasonable search and seizure. A search is usually reasonable if there is a search warrant supported with probable cause, but a search can even be reasonable without a warrant, especially in the context of a violent crime.

A person suspected of a violent crime may be searched without a warrant for a few of different reasons. First, if the police are in an emergency situation, such as pursuing an armed robber or suspect, they may search the individual for weapons to keep the public safe. Second, if the suspect gave consent to be searched. Third, if there is contraband or a weapon in plain view, the police do not need a search warrant to search and seize the weapon. Finally, if the person suspected of a crime is being arrested, the police are allowed to search the person and their immediate surroundings for a weapon.

If the police overstepped their authority and engaged in an unreasonable search and seizure, the evidence obtained during that illegal search may be suppressed. In other words, the government may not be able to use that evidence against you in court. It is important to note, however, that the government will fight the suppression of evidence, so it may be wise for a person suspected of a violent crime to have their case thoroughly reviewed to make sure all evidence was obtained lawfully, and if not, challenged on those grounds.

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