When and Why the Police Can Search You or Your Property

With the dawn of cell phones taking video, youtube and social media has come the creation of citizen vigilantes posting what they deem to be illegal searches and various other injustices by police officers.

There seems to be a general consensus amongst “regular people” that police can only search your person or belongings if they have “reasonable belief” or “reasonable suspicion” that the person is engaged in illegal activity. We have also all watched enough television to understand that police need a warrant signed by a judge to search a home or office.  If your rights have been violated here is a criminal defense attorney based in St. Paul Minnesota that can help.

Yet, illegal search and seizure still takes place in the face of the fourth amendment of the United States Constitution. The computer age has also added an entirely more complex level of search and seizure questions that which has led to the United States Supreme Court investigating the fourth amendment in relation to computers and the internet.

Your Person

Police officers have the right to search a person in connection with an arrest in order to protect themselves. The “pat-down” is perfectly legal in connection with an arrest. It is also legal for a male officer to frisk a female suspect. Calling a female officer is a way for the male officer to protect himself and a courtesy to the woman. A “street cop” is not allowed to squeeze, tug or essentially keep their hands on any body part too long….it should be a quick pat down.

The “stop and frisk” became popular to fight the war on drugs in New York City for many years. However; cases made their way to the Supreme Court which ruled that a stop and frisk has to be in connection with reasonable suspicion and in accordance with the fourth amendment.

Your Belongings

It is also legal for the police to search a person’s belongings, like a purse and car in connection with an arrest. The police may also search these forms of property in situations where the officer has reason to believe that the suspect has been using drugs or alcohol while driving, may be selling drugs or has weapons or a victim in the vehicle.

Your Home or Property

The Police may search your property with a search warrant signed by a Judge. They may also search if they have reason to believe that a fugitive or suspect may be hiding on the property. These cases can become very tricky without a search warrant. Hence; officers generally get a warrant before any kind of private property search.

Your Technology (Computers)

The search and seizure of computers is immensely important in child pornography cases, harassment/ stalking cases and many illegal business practice cases.

In November, 2017; the Supreme Court heard a case regarding illegal search and seizure in the digital age. A 2014 case set precedent that a cell phone was an extension of one’s person. However; the newer case leans toward the idea that the fourth amendment does not protect a person from surveillance in public. Therefore, a cell phone in public may be “hacked into” by the government at pretty much any time. The current administration also leans this way. Hello big brother.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *