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What constitutes an unlawful search and seizure?

When you face a criminal charge, you must consider your legal options. When navigating the possible criminal defenses, you, the accused, should seek to find a strategy that could result in reduced or dismissed charges or an acquittal. In order to establish your strongest defense, you also need to note your rights and the requirements to which police officers must adhere. If an officer fails to conduct a proper search and seizure, then you might be able to use that information to dismiss the seized evidence, possibly resulting in dropped the charges.

With regards to searches and seizures, the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution affords citizens with the right to be free from 'unreasonable government intrusion' of their persons, homes, property and business. This right protects your personal privacy, whether it is during a police stop on the street, an arrest or the search of a citizen's home, business or vehicle.

In order to determine whether an unlawful search or seizure occurred, it might help to understand what a valid search and seizure requires. Police officers have a legal obligation to protect the Fourth Amendment rights of a suspect. These rights can be protected when officers legally obtain a valid search warrant or arrest warrant. For these to be valid, there needs to be a belief that rises to the level of probable cause that the suspect has committed the crime of which they are accused.

If an arrest is not supported by probable cause or a valid warrant, then your Fourth Amendment rights were likely violated. If this is the case, then any evidence seized through the unlawful arrest could be dismissed. Furthermore, evidence could be inadmissible if an unlawful search was conducted, which might happen in instances where there was no valid search warrant or special circumstance to support the search.

When an unlawful search occurs, you could use that to your favor in a criminal defense. This, in turn, could lead to reduced or dropped charges or an acquittal. When devising a defense strategy, you should be fully aware of your rights. This could significantly help you and other New Yorkers avoid serious penalties.

Source: FindLaw, "'Search and Seizure' and the Fourth Amendment," accessed on Aug. 25, 2014

Source: FindLaw, "'Search and Seizure' and the Fourth Amendment," accessed on Aug. 25, 2014

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