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What constitutes an illegal search?

If you are not familiar with search and seizure laws, you are not alone. Many people are unfamiliar with the protections afforded to them when it comes to law enforcement’s legal right to search a person or property.

Understand what could constitute an illegal search so you can stand up for your civil rights.

Did you refuse or revoke consent?

If the officers asked if they could look around your home and you agreed, then revoked that consent when they wanted to look in a specific room, or in your cabinets, they cannot legally continue searching. Without a warrant or probable cause for the search, your consent is mandatory, and you can revoke it at any time.

Did the officer look for something beyond the warrant’s scope?

When an officer is searching based on a warrant, they are only permitted to search according to that warrant’s detail. For example, a warrant to search your home office and bedroom means that any search conducted in other areas of your home is inadmissible.

Are there any exceptions to the illegal search laws?

An officer may search a person or property only if they have a warrant, something illegal is in clear, plain sight, or they can feel what seems to be an illegal object during a pat-down. Border agents have the right to search anyone crossing the border for any reason as well.

The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution guarantees your right to lawful search and seizure. Protect your rights by understanding what law enforcement is, and is not, permitted to do.

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