Don’t Let the Police Illegally Search You!

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Can the Police search me without a Warrant?
The Fourth Amendment provides the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Constitution of the United States as well as the Georgia Constitution forbids not all searches and seizures but unreasonable searches and seizures, hence a few exceptions listed below.

Consent Search
An officer can search you or your property if you are legally stopped, if the officer does not go beyond the scope of the stop, and if you give your consent (permission) to search.  Consent is not as easy as it sounds, your consent must be freely and voluntarily given.  Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177 (1990). Remember, even if you consent to a search, your consent can always be withdrawn.

Plain View Exception
No warrant is required to seize evidence in plain view if the police are legitimately in the location from which the evidence can be viewed or smelled. For example, an officer cannot illegally enter a suspect’s back yard and then use the plain view exception to seize illegally kept drugs.

Search Incident to Lawful Arrest
An officer can conduct a search incident to a lawful arrest. For example, if you were pulled over for a traffic violation and were lawfully arrested for DUI or driving on a Suspended License, the officer could legally search you and your vehicle. Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 89 S. Ct. 2034 (1969).

Automobile Exception
If an officer makes an otherwise legal stop, and if he develops probable cause to believe you or your vehicle contains contraband, he can search without a warrant. However, in order to conduct a warrantless search, the same probable cause must exist that would support a search warrant. Autry v. State, 277 Ga. App. 305, 626 S.E.2d 528 (2006).

Stop & Frisk
Police may stop a suspect so long as there is a reasonable suspicion of a criminal act and the officer can articulate facts leading to that suspicion. The evidence necessary for “reasonable suspicion” here is something beyond mere suspicion, but is less than the level required for probable cause. If there is reason to believe that the person may be armed and dangerous, the police can also frisk the suspect. Terry v. Ohio, 392 U.S. 1 (1968).

Emergencies/Hot Pursuit
Evidence that can be easily moved, destroyed or otherwise made to disappear before a warrant can be issued may be seized without a warrant. Furthermore, if a suspect enters private property while being pursued by officers, no warrant is required to enter that property in order to continue pursuit, even if the suspect is in no way connected with the property owner. Kentucky v. King, 563 U.S. 452 (2011).

What Should I do if I’m unconstitutionally searched?
If you or someone you know believes that your person, home, papers, and/or effects, has been unconstitutionally searched, give Bixon Law a call. We have assisted many clients in preserving their 4th Amendment Constitutional rights. At Bixon Law, we devote 100% of our time to helping our clients fight criminal law matters. Don’t take your case to an attorney that specializes in everything, here we specialize in one thing and that’s Criminal Defense. Call us 24/7 at (404) 551-5684.

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