Unreasonable Search and Seizure

Law Enforcement must have a justification for detaining you, entering your home, or searching you or your property.  The type of justification has been defined through case law and depends on how the situation arose.

Home searches are presumptively unreasonable without a warrant.  However, there are certain exceptions which permit warrantless searches.

Detaining and searching your person depends on law enforcement’s reasonable belief of criminal activity occurring.

Generally, law enforcement need only have a reasonable suspicion that you have committed a traffic violation to stop your vehicle.  They need probable cause to believe that there is evidence of criminal activity in your vehicle to search it.  The justification for probable cause varies widely. 

Generally, you should refuse any searches of yourself or your property.  If you are stopped you may ask if you are free to leave.  If law enforcement insists on searching you or stopping you, it is best to remain calm and polite.

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* Nothing contained in this page is intended to be legal advice.

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