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Understand warrants and reasonable suspicion

Search and seizure is a procedure that is used by law enforcement. The police are able to search your property and to confiscate property if it's evidence of a crime. However, it's not as simple as just walking up to a person and looking through their things.

The police can be, and sometimes are, accused of unreasonable search and seizure. In those cases, people are accusing them of searching their homes, cars or bodies without reason to do so. Typically, search and seizure laws require a search warrant for the officer to perform a search without probable cause.

How does an officer get probable cause to search a home or vehicle?

It depends on the situation, but usually, the officer will obtain probable cause by witnessing a crime or someone who has been accused of a crime at the scene. They can also search a vehicle if they see evidence out in the open within the driver's reach. If they have reason to believe that you have evidence of a crime or action that they would like to prove and that reason would be understood as sound by others, then they usually would have the right to enter into or continue a search.

The police can also search your property, if you allow them to search your vehicle or home willingly. Most of the time, it's best not to allow an officer to search your vehicle or home unless they have a warrant. Allowing a search opens you up to the risk of something being found that could result in charges being placed against you.

What do you need to do if an officer wants to search your property?

You should know your rights are protected and that an officer, in most cases, will need a search warrant if they want to search your vehicle or look through your home. The officer is allowed to ask for items within view, but the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution does protect you against any unreasonable search and seizure. The officer may not search your property without a warrant if there is no reasonable suspicion and they cannot explain their reason for entry.

If your home or property is searched without permission, it is a good idea to speak with your attorney about your rights. You may have a claim against the police and be able to protect yourself against unfair charges.

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Doughty Law Firm, LLC
6650 Rivers Ave
North Charleston, SC 29406

Phone: 843-501-9342
Fax: 843-576-5401
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