Unlawful Searches

Search 1

Law Enforcement cannot search you or your property without a lawful reason. Otherwise, any evidence they recovered from the unlawful search may be thrown out.

Search Warrants

Law enforcement may obtain a warrant, signed by a judge, if they have probable cause of a crime. That search warrant may give them the authority to search houses, cars, bank accounts, cellphone records, bank records, and even people. This is the hardest evidence to attack because a judge already made a ruling before the search occurred, but there are still some areas of attack.

Consent Search

You can consent to almost anything, including a search of your person, car, or home. If the consent was voluntary, anything law enforcement finds is admissible. You don’t have to give consent to a search (but don’t try to physically stop them…. wait for court). If the consent wasn’t voluntary, any evidence recovered may be thrown out.

Probable Cause Search

Even without a warrant, law enforcement can search people and cars (not usually houses) if they have probable cause of a crime. Probable cause can include something illegal in “plain view” or the “smell of cannabis” (which is the go-to reason given by law enforcement for so many of these searches).

Pat-Down for Weapons

In very limited circumstances, when police have reason to believe you might be armed (like a bulge in a pocket that looks like a gun), they can conduct a pat-down on the outside of your clothing to see if they feel a weapon. However, they must have lawfully encountered you in the first place and must defend the reason they believed you may have been armed.  

Search After Arrest

If law enforcement had probable cause to make an arrest, they can search your person and anything within your easy reach or control (bags, purses, etc.) before taking you to jail. At the jail, they can conduct a strip search as well. The issue becomes whether they had probable cause to arrest and whether that object was within your reach or control where the evidence was located.

Evidence used in court must have been obtained by lawful means. If law enforcement violated Florida Statutes, the Florida Constitution, or the Federal Constitution to get that evidence, a “Motion to Suppress” properly filed and argued in court may result in throwing that evidence out. If enough evidence is thrown out, the case may even be dismissed. You have a right to be free from unlawful search and seizure.

If you’re facing any charges, contact Blaine today to discuss your case.