The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and Texas search and seizure laws define a legal search and limit law enforcement’s authority to search people and their property. If the police overstep their authority, the search is illegal. This can have significant implications on your criminal case. Your attorney can file a motion to suppress evidence asking the judge to exclude evidence the police obtained illegally.
If you believe you were the victim of an illegal search in Frisco, you should immediately reach out to a qualified criminal defense attorney. The law governing unreasonable search and seizure is complex, so working with a skilled criminal defense attorney is critical.
When a Search Legal in Frisco?
Under the law, a search is the examination of a person’s body or property where there was a reasonable expectation of privacy. In general, a search is legal under three circumstances:
1. There was a valid warrant
2. You consented to the search
3. There was an exception to the warrant requirement.
1. There Was a Valid Warrant
In Texas, a search is legal when law enforcement obtains a valid warrant from the court. A judge or magistrate will only issue a warrant if there is probable cause that a crime was committed, and it is reasonably likely that the police will find evidence there. In general, probable cause means there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime has occurred. In the warrant request, police must include an affidavit containing the facts and circumstances based on their observations or the reliable observations of others. A warrant cannot be based on just a hunch or feeling.
The warrant authorizes law enforcement officers to search a specified place for particular items. Officers cannot exceed the scope of the warrant. For example, if the warrant authorized a search of a bathroom for drugs, the police cannot also search through your basement.
2. You Consented to the Search
If you give the police consent, they do not need a search warrant. Your consent must be given freely and not by coercion or duress. If law enforcement officers ask to enter with their weapons drawn or make threats, the consent is not voluntary.
The person giving consent must have access and control of the property. For example, your spouse who lives in your home can give the police consent to enter. However, your landlord cannot give permission because even though they own the property, they do not have access and control.
It is critical to understand that you have the right to say no to law enforcement officers when they ask to search your person or property. The police do not need to inform you of your right to decline a search.
3. There Was an Exception to the Warrant Requirement
There are limited circumstances where the police can do a warrantless search in Frisco. This area of the law is complicated and ever-evolving. A few examples of situations where law enforcement officers can conduct a search without a warrant are listed below.
• Hot Pursuit. Police do not need a search warrant if they are pursuing a fleeing felon. For example, if law enforcement responds to a shooting at a gas station and the suspect runs into a nearby home, the police can enter the house.
• Searches Incident to Arrest. After a person has been arrested, the police can search the person and their immediate surroundings. The purpose of the search is to locate any weapons that may be dangerous to the officers or others.
• Plain View. Law enforcement officers can seize anything that they see in plain view. Plain view means that it can be seen without having to move any items. For example, if the police enter your home with a warrant to search your bathroom, but there is a drug paraphilia on the coffee table in plain view, they can seize this evidence.
• Prevent the Destruction of Evidence. In general, police can enter a home without a search warrant if they reasonably believe that the suspect is about to destroy contraband.
• Emergency. The police do not need a search warrant if they need to act because someone is in imminent danger of being killed or seriously injured. After the crisis is contained, further searching is not permitted.
Your Frisco Criminal Defense Attorney
If you believe that you were the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, you should reach out to an experienced criminal defense attorney. Philip D. Ray will fight your charges with an aggressive and strategic defense. Call Philip D. Ray today to schedule a consultation at 469 588-6770.