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What Constitutes a Reasonable Search?

According to the Texas Criminal Practice Guide, the Fourth Amendment bars unlawful search and seizure, which essentially means that if police perform a search and seizure without a warrant, it is unconstitutional, and any evidence they gather becomes invalid. A search warrant grants law enforcement personnel the right to search specific areas for a particular item. It is important to keep in mind that when it comes to cars and other motor vehicles, officers rarely need search warrants if they have probable cause.

Therefore, a reasonable search is one where an officer has a warrant or has probable cause. Probable cause can include, surveillance, a signed affidavit, hearsay or any visible evidence. A reasonable search can also be conducted without a warrant if you are in custody.

If you think you were the victim of illegal search and seizure, we can help. At the Law Offices of Robert Gregg, we have extensive experience representing clients upon whom the justice system might not look favorably. Call us today at (214) 891-7536 to arrange an initial consultation with a criminal attorney in Dallas, and read on for more information about reasonable searches.

Probable Cause

If an officer comes to your home and asks to perform a search, you have every right to deny entry unless he or she presents you with a signed warrant. Only then would it be a reasonable search. In order to obtain a warrant, law enforcement personnel must prove to a judge that they have probable cause to perform the search in the first place.

In general, an officer needs a good reason to search your home, as well as tangible evidence to back up any claims of illicit activities. Proof might include surveillance, a signed affidavit, hearsay or any visible evidence surrounding the home.

For example, if an officer observes you partaking in suspicious behavior, that could qualify as surveillance, and he or she could then obtain a warrant and perform a reasonable search on your premises. If an officer simply suspects that you are partaking in illegal activities, a judge is unlikely to issue a warrant without demanding substantial proof of your involvement.

Unreasonable Search

Law enforcement must have sufficient reason and must believe that there is convicting evidence of a crime for a search to be considered "reasonable." Though laws are in place to protect U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, they still occur. The Supreme Court recently ruled that a dog sniff outside of a home constitutes an unreasonable search without a warrant. The particular case involved a drug-sniffing dog that detected marijuana in a private residence, and the officer then used the dog’s sniff as proof to obtain a search warrant.

Reasonable Search without a Warrant

It is important to keep in mind that there are times when an officer may conduct a legal search without a warrant. For example, if the police stop you for speeding and they proceed to spot evidence of drugs in your vehicle, they are allowed to conduct a search of your car without a warrant. Also, if you are in custody, law enforcement personnel are allowed to search your body and clothing.

If you think you have been the victim of illegal search and seizure, you have options. Call the Law Offices of Robert Gregg today at (214) 891-7536 to arrange an initial consultation to discuss your case with a criminal lawyer in Dallas.