How Can I Protect My Rights During a Search?
Anytime a law enforcement official suspects that you have committed a crime, they have the right to search you or your property with a warrant. However, even if an officer claims they have the necessary documents to begin the search, you should also be aware of your rights. This avoids your rights being infringed upon and any unlawful activity from occurring. Being charged with a crime should always be taken seriously, even if you are facing a minor charge such as petty theft or vandalism.
What is Probable Cause?
A person’s right to be protected from an unlawful search and seizure is addressed by the Fourth Amendment. In order for a search to occur, an officer must have probable cause, which refers to the likelihood that a suspect has evidence that links them to a crime at a particular time and place. Once they have established probable cause, officers can request a written order issued by the court to perform a search. They can only search the locations listed in the warrant. The specific conditions and guidelines for conducting a lawful search and seizure to occur is stated in Maryland law.
If a police officer ever asks if they can conduct a search of your property, here are tips to ensure your rights are protected.
Ask for the Warrant
If you are ever stopped by an officer who asks if they can search your property, you have the right to view the warrant if they do have one, as a trusted criminal defense lawyer like one from the Law Office of Daniel J. Wright can explain. Ask to view the officer’s identification, credentials, and request the reason for the search.
Do Not Admit Guilt
You have the right to remain silent during police encounters, even if you are innocent. Speaking directly to the police can introduce more risks than benefits, and anything you say can be used against you. You may be coerced to confess to a crime you had no part in. It’s best to withhold any statements to anyone except your lawyer.
While warrants are generally required to carry out a lawful search, it is important to note that there are exceptions to the rule, especially in regards to the safety of law enforcement officials, such as:
- If evidence is clearly visible, ie. illegal drugs
- A suspect attempts to flee
- A suspect consents to a search
- The search is related to an arrest
Due process is a critical part of the justice system, and a person deserves to have their rights protected at all times. If you believe your constitutional rights have been violated and have been subjected to an unlawful search and seizure, contact a top criminal defense attorney who can advise you on your next steps.