Search and Seizure in California

California Seach and Seizure

Search and Seizure in California

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution affirms your right to privacy and defends you from unlawful search and seizure by members of law enforcement. There are specific protocols that police must follow in order to search your residence, vehicle, and person; it is absolutely critical that you know your rights as a citizen. If you are in the San Diego area and have been subject to a police search and seizure, you need to call an experienced and capable criminal defense attorney immediately.

California Seach and SeizureLegal Requirements for the Execution of a Search and Seizure

In order to execute a search warrant in the State of California, law enforcement agencies must obtain such a document through a judge of the jurisdiction where the warrant is to be executed. Police officers must provide proof of probable cause, indicating why a search warrant would be necessary. Probable cause is the reasonable belief that a crime was in fact committed by the individual or individuals that reside within a residence or possess a vehicle. Barring certain exceptions, police are strictly prohibited from searching any contents or location not specifically covered with the search warrant. If you have received a search warrant or your premises and/or personal possessions are being searched by law enforcement, you need to contact a qualified and skilled San Diego criminal defense lawyer that can ensure your rights are being protected. As stated above, there are certain exceptions in which law enforcement personnel and engage in searches that are not expressly laid out in the search warrant, the exceptions are the following:

  • Consent: If you provide clear verbal consent to an officer, allowing them to search areas that are not included in the judge-issued search warrant, they may do so.
  • Plain View: If an item is in plain view that may be illegal or connected to the commission of a crime, officers may search it.
  • Search incident to arrest: If an officer is making a lawful arrest, they have the right to conduct a full search of your person and the immediate surrounding area.
  • Exigent circumstances: If a law enforcement officer feels that their safety or the safety of others may be at risk or crucial evidence may be destroyed, they are permitted to search the area.
  • Automobile Exception: Law enforcement may search a vehicle if there is a reasonable belief of the presence of contraband.
  • Hot Pursuit: If police officers are chasing a fleeing criminal inside of a residence, they may search the premises without a warrant.

Legal Protections against Unlawful Search and Seizure

It is absolutely critical that you retain experienced legal counsel to be well-informed of the legal recourse that you have at your disposal when confronted with the criminal justice system. An effective criminal defense attorney can investigate chains of evidence and use any police errors in fact gathering to exonerate you of any potential charges. The exclusionary rule dictates that any evidence that is acquired through an unlawful search and seizure cannot be used against you in a court of law. This evidence would be classified as the “fruit of a poisonous tree” and, in turn, inadmissible in any trial setting. If you are in the San Diego area and have experienced a search and seizure, contact the Coastal Legal Center for a free consultation and case evaluation at 619-231-0724.


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