Being stopped by authorities is an unfortunate event for Iowa residents, but it is likely only the beginning of their situation. Whether it is a traffic stop or not, officers have the ability to initiate a search if they obtain a search warrant or meet the required exceptions for conducting a search without a warrant. No matter the situation, defendants should take the time to understand if a warrant was properly executed, or if not, what legal exception existed.
What exceptions apply to the rules for search warrants? The Fourth Amendment governs search and seizures, and if it is determined that a search was unreasonable; this could be used in a criminal defense to suppress evidence. However, search warrants are not always needed.
For example, if the object being seized is in plain view, this can be legally seized. The plain view rule does not violate the Fourth Amendment because there is no exception of privacy to properties left in the open or abandoned. Warrant requirements are also waived in exigent circumstance. In these matters, a police officer must have probable cause and show that obtaining a warrant is impractical in this particular situation.
Other exceptions that are well established include consensual searches, brief investigatory stops and searches incident to a valid arrest. Whether an officer has a valid exception or not, all searches and seizures must be reasonable. Additionally, no excessive force should be used. Finally, if a warrant is issued, a search must be conducted in the manner outlined by the document.
If a defendant believes that a search and seizure was not reasonable or believes that an exception to the rules for search warrants was not applicable, he or she might be able to use this information for a defense. Just because evidence has been collected against you does not mean it was obtained legally or can be used against you. Thus, it is vital to understand your defense options and how you can suppress evidence in your criminal case.