You have the right to a reasonable amount of privacy. If you’re in public, you either knowingly or unknowingly give your consent to a certain invasion of privacy. However, if you’re in your home or inside your vehicle. To help protect you, our Constitution has declared in the 4th Amendment that:
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”
The breakdown is that you are protected by law from unreasonable search and seizure in your home and on your person.
However, when does your right to privacy end and the search becomes legal?
If you believe you were searched unlawfully and resulted in a DUI charge, call a skilled DUI defense attorney in Asheville for help.
What Validates a Search Warrant
For a search warrant to be valid, it must be issued out by an unbiased judge to carry out the search for a specified object, at a specified time and location. For a judge to sign off on a warrant, it must have been completed in earnest by a law enforcement officer, that has indicated probable cause for the search.
Once the warrant is issued, you are no longer protected by the 4th Amendment to expect a right to privacy, due to the possibility that a crime has been committed. The search warrant allows the investigating officers to seize any evidence that can be used to further their case, even if the evidence collected is outside the scope of the previously listed object of interest.
The search must happen within the time allotted by the warrant in order for it to be considered valid. If the police delay or postpone the search outside the parameters of the warrant, then the evidence collected can be disregarded as illegal.
What to Expect During a Search
Unless the police have a reasonable expectation that you pose a threat, they should conduct themselves in a professional manner, extending you the chance to cooperate with their investigation. They should knock on any doors they wish to enter as well as announcing their presence before breaking down any barriers to entry, such as doors or windows. This “knock and announce” rule is extended to the occupants as a chance to collect themselves and be prepared to interact with the police.
After announcing themselves, they must then present the warrant to search the premises to the occupants without causing any undue harm to those present or any damage to property. If an arrest is made, it must be done so with probable cause.
Notations to Consider Regarding these Rules
There is no official statement officers need to give when announcing themselves, unlike the Miranda Warning.
Just because you didn’t hear the officers announce themselves, doesn’t mean they didn’t.
There isn’t a preset time that officers must wait before forcibly entering a domicile, however, the language of the rule states that it must be “reasonable”.
If the officers have reason to suspect that there is a threat of violence or the chance that the evidence they are searching for may be destroyed, then they can forego the knock and announce rule. This is most common when guns and drugs may be at the location of the search.
If the knock and announce rule is ignored, this does not invalidate any of the evidence collected at the scene. However, not every state follows this protocol.
Can a Search Occur Without a Search Warrant?
The key phrase to consider when reviewing the 4th Amendment is that it protects individuals from “unreasonable” search and seizure.
The precludes to a number of circumstances in which you’re 4th Amendment right cannot protect you. The most common exception to your right is the concept of exigent circumstances. This means that an officer can conduct a search without a warrant if the situation requires immediate action, such as the event of an emergency.
Other cases that your 4th Amendment right can be dismissed include the possibility that evidence will be destroyed, the police are actively pursuing you in relation to a crime, or there is a vocal cry for assistance. This policy is in place due to the idea that it is protecting the public by apprehending criminals, preserving critical evidence, or helping those in immediate need.
The police then must justify why they bypassed your constitutional right and if the court deems that the search occurred in bad faith, there was enough time to obtain a warrant, or there was a disregard for standard investigative tactics, then the search may be deemed illegal.
Contact a DUI Defense Attorney
If you believe you’ve been the victim of an unlawful search that resulted in a DUI charge, call our DUI defense law firm in Asheville, NC. Our skilled attorneys can help you with your case.