The rules for conducting a valid search

On Behalf of | Jul 7, 2020 | Criminal Defense

The Fourth Amendment provides Texas residents and others with protection from unreasonable search and seizures by government agents. Generally speaking, a search can only be conducted after a warrant has been issued by a judge. However, it may be possible to search a person for weapons or other contraband after that individual has been taken into custody. Furthermore, the Fourth Amendment only applies to instances in which an individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.

Two items must be considered when determining if a person likely has an expectation of privacy. First, an individual must genuinely believe that a place or thing was meant to be hidden from public view. In addition, a court must find that society as a whole would generally agree with that person’s opinion.

For example, items that a police officer finds in a person’s yard can generally be collected without a warrant. This is the case because they are in plain view of other people even though they are located on private property. In most cases, evidence obtained through an illegal search is considered inadmissible in court. The same may be true of any subsequent information that is gleaned from evidence that was obtained through an illegal search. However, it may still factor into a civil case or be used by a judge when determining a criminal sentence.

Individuals who are charged with crimes may not necessarily be guilty of breaking a state or federal law. A criminal defense attorney may prove that a police officer or other government representative obtained evidence in violation of a person’s Fourth Amendment rights. If evidence is suppressed, it may result in a criminal charge being reduced, a person obtaining a favorable plea deal or a defendant being acquitted by a jury.