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What is an illegal search and seizure?

Being accused of a crime is a serious situation for residents in Iowa and elsewhere. While it might seem to the defendant that they have little to no wiggle room when it comes to asserting a defense because the police and the state have collected much evidence against them, it is important to understand that all evidence is not credible. If evidence was not properly collected, there are options available for defendants to suppress that evidence being used against them.

What is an illegal search and seizure? When law enforcement is engaging in the search and seizure process, there are rules and exceptions to these rules that apply to this entire evidence collection process.

It is important to note when a search is considered to occur or begin. Two factors must be present. First, the person whose body, home or property is being searched expected a degree of privacy in that situation. Second, the expectation of privacy in that matter is considered reasonable.

Next, it must be determined whether a search warrant was needed to initiate the search. Typically, if a search involves property that is considered private, a search warrant is required. However, there are certain exceptions to this rule, such as the need to prevent a suspect from destroying evidence.

In order to get enough information to obtain a search warrant, police are typically allowed to take pictures from the air above a home or can eavesdrop on conversations. Despite this capability, police are not allowed to use hi-tech equipment to obtain this information because this would be considered an illegal search and seizure.

In order for the police to obtain a search warrant two elements must exist. First, there must be probable cause that a crime actually occurred, and they must show that either evidence or contraband linked to the crime will likely be found in a certain location on the property or person in question. It should be noted that search warrant are not required if consent to a search is given, it is an emergency situation, the search is an incident to an arrest or the evidence collected was in pain view.

Just because evidence has been collected against you does not mean that it was legally obtained. Thus, defendant should consider their criminal defense options. This could help them reduce or dismiss the criminal charges against them, helping them avoid serious penalties.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Illegal Search and Seizure FAQs," accessed March 19, 2017

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