As a citizen of the United States, you are protected by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution from unreasonable searches and seizures. While this amendment is expected to help “protect people’s rights to privacy and freedom from unreasonable intrusions by the government,” it doesn’t prevent officers from abusing their rights and power and engaging in an unlawful search [Source: Cornell Law School]. The reality is, many police officers will often search people and their property without probable cause or a warrant that permits them to do so.
If you or someone you know was searched by a Volusia County officer and you believe your rights were violated, you can always contact a who can assess the situation and determine if, in fact, the officer in question did violate the law.
Under most circumstances, police officers are required to obtain a search warrant from a judge before they can conduct a search of a person, their vehicle, or their home. A judge will generally issue a warrant when one or more of the following grounds are met:
1. In the event property has been stolen or embezzled in violation of the law.
2. When any property has been used:
- To commit any crime.
- In connection with gambling, gambling implements, and appliances.
- In violation of or any other laws that are associated with obscene prints and literature.
- When the property serves as evidence in proving that a felony has been committed.
3. When the property that is being held or possessed that:
- Violates any laws that prohibit the manufacture, sale, and transportation of intoxicating liquors.
- Violates the fish and game laws.
- Violates the laws relative to food and drug.
- Violates the laws relative to citrus disease pursuant to § 581.184.
- Deals with cruelty to animals, as provided in chapter 828, have been or are violated in any particular building or place.
[Source: Florida State Statute Chapter 933 §933.02].
However, there are times when a warrant is not required. According to the Cornell Law School, it is not illegal for a police officer in Volusia County to conduct a warrantless search when any of the following circumstances apply:
- If an officer has asked for permission to search a person and/or their property and they are given consent to do so by that person.
- When an officer is making a lawful arrest.
- If the officer has probable cause to conduct a search and exigent circumstance exist. Exigent circumstances would exist “in situations where people are in imminent danger, whereevidence faces imminent destruction, or prior to a suspect’s imminent escape.”
- When objects being searched are in plain view.
- Police officers can seize abandoned property without a warrant when it is on an open field as it is considered to be unreasonable to have an expectation of privacy.
Because most individuals are unaware of when a police officer does or does not need a warrant to conduct a search or seize property, they often comply with officer commands even when they are in violation of the law. Therefore, if you suspect that you were unreasonably searched or had your property taken away from you by a police officer in Volusia County, FL, don’t wait to contact USAttorneys.com. We can help you locate a legal expert in your area who will be more than happy to take a look at your case and determine if you have grounds for taking legal action against the officer and/or the department in which they work for.