Lawful & Unlawful Searches

Attorney Ben Schwartz answers a comment about Unlawful Searches from a Facebook fan, Gayle. Her comment was, “I wish you had covered the laws concerning searching vehicles, I think young people especially are unaware of their rights in that situation”.

Unlawful Searches

Transcript:

I’m Attorney Ben Schwartz and today this video is for Gayle on Facebook who left us a comment. Her comment was, “I wish you had covered the laws concerning searching vehicles, I think young people especially are unaware of their rights in that situation”.

In today’s video, it is about the Fourth Amendment and the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. If you’re living in America, if you are a US citizen, you have this right. It’s a constitutional right. It is the right to be free from unreasonable searches. Basically, what that means is, that if the police stopped you, or the police come to your home, and they want to search, they have to have a good reason. It has to be a good enough reason that they can go get a search warrant. They can explain to the judge that even though the Fourth Amendment protects you, the Fourth Amendment says that they can’t come into your home unless there’s a good reason to believe that there’s some criminal activity going on. They need a judge to issue a warrant to let them come into your home.

The exception to that rule is if there are exigent circumstances, which there rarely are but, if there are exigent circumstances, meaning that if they don’t go in immediately, the evidence will be destroyed or the person will get away. Then they don’t need a warrant.

Let me give you an example. If the police are chasing a bank robber and the bank robber has a bag full of cash and the bank robber runs into my house and the police run up to the front door, they don’t need to stop at the front door. They don’t need to go get a warrant to come into my house. The bank robbers could be carrying a gun. He could come in and shoot me. The police can come in and follow the bank robber right into my house. They need to come in, because there’s an armed bank robber who’s just running to my house, so no warrant is required.

The basic rule is you’ve got to have a reason to go into somebody’s home or into somebody’s vehicle. You have to have probable cause, meaning probable cause to believe that there’s criminal activity going on. That probable cause is what you used to get a search warrant, which is a court order authorizing you to go into that home or into that car. In the exception to that rule is when there’s exigent circumstances you don’t need a warrant.

Now that’s a lot to remember and you don’t need to remember that at all, you just need to understand that’s where I’m coming from. That’s where the rule of law is at this stage in the game. What I suggest that you remember is that there’s nothing in American law, there’s nothing in constitutional law, that says you have to consent to a search. If you remember one thing from this video, the one thing should be, you don’t have to consent to a search. If a police officer asked for consent to search your home you can say no. If a police officer asks for consent to search your car, you can say no. In fact you can say “My Lawyer told me the same no”.

You’re watching this video and I’m telling you that you have that right and I’m a lawyer. If you are asked by the police to consent to a search you have the right to say no. If they have reason to believe that there’s criminal activity, they can certainly go get a warrant. If they have articulable exigent circumstances, that they believe will hold up in court, then they can certainly come in without a warrant but, that’s up to them. That’s not within your control and what’s within your control is whether you consent to a search or not. You never have to consent to a search, it’s your right as an American citizen not to consent to a unlawful searches.

Ben Schwartz is the Managing Partner of Schwartz & Schwartz, Attorneys at Law. If you are searching online for a personal injury attorney, please contact Ben about your case. Ben and the other attorneys in the firm represent people who have been injured in car accidents, tractor-trailer and bus accidents, motorcycle accidents, slip-and-fall accidents, and dog bites. We have offices in Havertown (suburban Philadelphia), PA, Wilmington, DE and Dover, Delaware. Contact us and see if we can help you today!

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