In the State of Iowa a police officer cannot search an automobile during a traffic stop unless they have probable cause to do so, which means they have visual evidence needed to conduct searches, make arrests or formally obtain a search warrant. The Iowa State high court had ruled that officers could not detain people for unnecessarily long periods of time writing traffic tickets while awaiting the arrival of drug detection dogs, unless there was compelling evidence of wrongdoing.  Illegal search and seizures are considered actions of police brutality.

Exceptions to rule. 

There most common exceptions to the 4th Amendment right regarding search and seizure activity include instances: 1) when someone is caught in the act of committing a crime or there is probable cause; and 2) during a pat down search, when an officer believes that a person is behaving in a suspicious manner to alert them to an ongoing or future criminal act.

Violations of the 4th Amendment by police.

In theory, a warrant is required before police can search an area, but there are daily exceptions to the practice of obtaining a warrant in communities nationwide.  Police can search automobiles without warrants, they can detain people on the street without them “stop and frisk,” and they can always search or seize in an emergency without going to a judge.  The arguable idea here is “in an emergency” whereby these standards need to be placed out in front of and judged in a court of law.  An attorney can assist in determining if an individual’s rights were violated.

Police are reaching over the fine line of the 4th Amendment when they:

  1. Claim to hear a noise, or someone reports a noise, and they conduct a search on private property.
  2. Make a person get out of the car during a traffic stop and frisk them if they have not done anything suspicious. If they have a cell phone in a pocket that information could be illegally viewed and if there is incriminating evidence, a police officer may then expand a search.
  3. Searching a car during a traffic stop because of suspicious driver movements or due to a bias-based profiling stop
  4. Entering someone’s home who may not be familiar with the law and conducting a search without permission because the person just let them in the door because of the badge.

Hire an attorney.

If you have been a victim of illegal search and seizure activity, contact an attorney at The Law Offices of Eells & Tronvold to review your case for a possible legal claim against the officer or the department.

Eells & Tronvold Law Offices, PLC 
Phone: 319-393-1020
Fax: 319-393-4000
1921 51st Street, NE,
Cedar Rapids, IA 52402-2400



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