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Illegal Search and Seizures: What You Need to Know


Law enforcement services frequently conduct search and seizures, whereby they are able to enter a property in search of something they suspect is there. However, they cannot do this on a whim: There are many rules and regulations that go into this procedure, which are directed by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.

This blog will answer some of the common questions addressing the legalities of search and seizures, and how to know if you were subject to an illegal search and seizure.

Is my private property off-limits to the police?

Usually, your private property is yours alone. If there is a time when the police want to enter your property to look for evidence, they need a search warrant in which to do so. There are some exceptions to this, however. Exceptions usually arise when there is a short time frame and a danger of suspects destroying the evidence within that time frame.

What did the police have to do in order to get the search warrant?

Search warrants are given by a judge or magistrate. They give permission for a search to be carried out in a particular location or on a specific person. Usually, a search warrant must be applied for by the police, and sufficient reasons should be given that can be justified to the judge.

My landlord gave the police permission to search: Is that illegal?

The person that is responsible for the apartment is the only person who can grant permission to search the apartment. So while the landlord could legally let the police search the common areas, they would not be allowed to search any part of your apartment if you are the only one living there.

Source: Findlaw, "Illegal search and seizure FAQs," accessed Sep. 01, 2017