What constitutes legal search and seizure?

On Behalf of | Feb 11, 2021 | Criminal Defense

Getting stopped by the police does not mean you have to consent to a search. The Fourth Amendment protects everyone from illegal search and seizure. 

What constitutes a legal search and seizure? Maryland law gives specific grounds that police must follow if the court is to uphold any search and any subsequent evidence obtained from it. Find out what the statutes have to say about what the police can and cannot do during an investigation. 

The police obtain a warrant

A warrant comes from the court and directs the named target, namely you, to comply with the warrant’s terms. A warrant means that the court believes you have evidence of a crime or that you committed a crime. The police must provide cursory evidence to a court of your involvement in a crime. The evidence is not sufficient to convict you of the crime, but it allows the police to search you and arrest you. 

An officer uses probable cause

During a stop, an officer may exercise probable cause to search the vehicle, the property inside and you. Probable cause is the foundational element of police investigations. Officers must believe that you have done something wrong or will do something wrong based on what they see. For instance, an officer must have probable cause of your impairment to conduct field sobriety testing. The officer must observe you exhibiting the signs of intoxication. 

Without protection against illegal search and seizure, the police would have free reign to find evidence against you. When an officer does not have either a warrant or probable cause, a judge may toss out anything obtained by an illegal search. 

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