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Understanding Search and Seizure Laws

(Last Updated On: October 24, 2018)

What are Search and Seizure Laws

The police’s ability to search your property, make arrests, and take your property as evidence must conform to the limitations of the Fourth Amendment.

To protect your privacy, the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures.

As a result, the police need a warrant and probable cause that they can find evidence in order to search your property.


Legitimate Expectation of Privacy

The Fourth Amendment only governs searches where you have a legitimate expectation of privacy, such as in your home.

The court uses a two-part test to determine whether or not you had a legitimate expectation of privacy at the time of the search.

First, the court asks whether you actually expected privacy and whether your expectation of privacy was objectively reasonable.

For example, if a police officer pulled your car over and noticed evidence on your passenger seat, that evidence could be admissible because it was in plain view and you were not objectively reasonable in expecting privacy.


The Exclusionary Rule

If the court determines you were subjected to an unreasonable search, the evidence seized may not be used against you in court.

This exclusionary rule deters police from ignoring search procedure and seizing evidence illegally. In addition, any additional evidence found from that illegal search is considered inadmissible as fruit of the poisonous tree.

This evidence must only have been discoverable through the initial illegal search, such as wiretapping your phone conversation.


Case Dismissal

Even if you are able to show evidence was illegally seized, the prosecution may have other evidence in your case.

Additionally, a judge can consider the illegally obtained evidence in his or her sentencing decisions.

If you choose to testify at trial, the prosecution may also be able to impeach your credibility through this evidence.

Search and seizure laws are incredibly complex, so it’s important to meet with a criminal defense attorney about your case.

As a leading Arizona law firm, the attorneys of Thrush Law Group provide the service you need to achieve the best possible outcome.

Posted in Arizona Criminal Law.

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