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BalduchiLaw Office, PC July 17, 2023

Do I Have to Let the Police Search Me? My Car? My Home?

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution was enacted to protect citizens from any unlawful search and seizure by government authorities, including law enforcement officers. Unless under certain exceptions, it is illegal for a police officer to search a person's home, vehicle, or property without obtaining a valid search warrant or following the guidelines for conducting searches. 

Balduchi Law Office, PC, is committed to offering experienced legal services and defending clients against illegal search and seizure. The reliable Iowa criminal defense attorneys at the firm can evaluate your unique situation, enlighten you about your rights, and determine the next line of action. The firm proudly serves clients across Des Moines, Polk County, and surrounding counties throughout Iowa. 

Your Fourth Amendment Rights

According to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized." 

The U.S. Fourth Amendment protects residents from unreasonable searches and seizures by police officers. Also, the Constitutional Amendment outlines the required guidelines for performing legal searches on people's homes, motor vehicles, or belongings. Before a police officer can search any private property, they must first obtain a valid search warrant signed by the judge. In addition, the court will only issue a search warrant if the search is determined to be reasonable. 

Searching Without a Warrant 

For the most part, pieces of evidence seized or obtained on private property during an illegal search and seizure are inadmissible at trial. However, there are specific exceptions that allow law enforcement officers to carry out a search and seizure without obtaining a search warrant. These include: 

Search Incident to Arrest – The search was justified based on probable cause that the defendant committed an offense, supported by an affirmation or Oath, and an arrest was made. 

Probable Cause Search – The facts and surrounding circumstances of the situation provided the police officer with a reasonable or justifiable reason to conduct the search. 

Inventory Search – The search was conducted to record the contents of the property or vehicle after the police took its custody. An inventory search may be necessary to protect the owner and their assets and prevent law enforcement from planting evidence. 

Plain View – The police seized the evidence because it was clearly visible. 

Protect Personal Safety – The law enforcement officer seized the evidence to protect his or her own personal safety. 

Consent – The law enforcement officer conducted the search and seizure because the person or property owner agreed or consented to it. 

Protect Evidence – The police officer had reasons to believe that the evidence may be destroyed and seized the evidence to protect it. 

Landlord Approval – The landlord or homeowner allowed the police to search the hallway area of an apartment complex or the entire apartment (if it has been vacated after a formal eviction). 

Aside from the exceptions listed above, the police are prohibited from performing a search and seizure on private property without getting a valid search warrant from a judge. 

If you believe that the evidence against you was obtained through an unlawful search and seizure, you need to get in touch with strategic criminal defense lawyers straight away. Your legal counsel can assess your specific situation and help you navigate crucial decisions. 

Why Get an Attorney's Guidance

Understanding where the authority of law enforcement officers ends and where the constitutional rights of citizens begin can be quite complicated. Nonetheless, it is unlawful for the police to search you, your vehicle, or your home without any justifiable reason or a valid warrant. Therefore, if you've been a victim of an unlawful search and seizure, don’t face this alone without an attorney’s guidance. Protect your rights and determine the next course of action. 

With over three decades of combined experience, the skilled attorneys at Balduchi Law Office, PC, have the diligence and expertise to advise, guide, and represent clients in legal matters involving search warrants and unlawful search and seizure. As your legal counsel, they can investigate the surrounding facts of your case, assess the police officer's conduct, and strategize a solid defense for your situation. Even if you're facing criminal charges, the legal team will file a motion to suppress any evidence obtained during the unlawful search or fight to make it inadmissible in court. 

Contact Balduchi Law Office, PC, today to schedule a simple case evaluation. Attorneys Kent Balduchi and Austin Luse can help you navigate the state's criminal legal system and explore your possible defense options. The firm proudly serves clients across Des Moines, Polk County, and surrounding counties throughout Iowa. 


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