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What is illegal search and seizure?

Citizens of Georgia may assume that every law enforcement agent is following the laws laid out by the state and federal government. However, this is not always the case. When it comes to arresting an individual and/or obtaining evidence, there are certain protocols that need to be followed, and when they are not it is considered illegal search and seizure.

According to FindLaw, the constitution protects the right to be free under the Fourth Amendment. While the police have the right to search a person or place or arrest someone when there is probable cause, they may not do so without it or for random reasons. Other reasons search and seizure is legal is when there is a valid search warrant or a valid arrest warrant. If one of these grounds is not presented, it may be considered an illegal search and seizure. 

However, the United States Courts outlines some exceptions to the constitution, and these have to do with justifiable government interests. Some examples in which a search and seizure may be considered reasonable include:

  • When unusual conduct is seen, an officer may stop the person and briefly ask reasonable questions
  • When items are in plain view in a place of residence
  • Routine stops and searches at an international border
  • Highway checkpoints for sobriety tests and if a crime recently occurred in the area
  • A drug-sniffing dog can walk around a vehicle that was stopped for valid reasons
  • During a lawful traffic stop, the occupants may be patted down by an officer

So, while there are fairly specific guidelines that constitute what makes a search and seizure illegal, the exceptions can make things a little more confusing. That is why getting an experienced lawyer involved is a smart thing to do if you feel your rights have been violated.


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