What makes a law enforcement search illegal?
Arizona residents are right to expect some level of privacy in their personal lives. For example, they should expect that the can live as they please within the law within their homes without the threat of law enforcement officials barging in and investigating their actions and property. However, under some circumstances police and other government officials are permitted to make searches and seizures of private citizens’ property when they are investigating suspected criminal conduct.
First, under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, a search of a person or their property must be reasonable. A law enforcement official may not arbitrarily decide to search someone without cause; they generally must have probable cause to suspect that a crime has happened and that their search will yield evidence of that crime.
Second, a search may be permissible if the person searched had no legitimate expectation of privacy when the search occurred. This can be done pursuant to an arrest, when a person gives law enforcement officials consent to undertake the search and other situations. To overcome a search based on this legal situation a person must be able to show that the law enforcement personnel involved had not warrant, not cause and no reason to investigate for evidence of criminal activity.
This post only introduces the complex topic of illegal searches and seizures and should not be read as legal advice. Illegal searches and seizures of property happen often in the United States. When they do, individuals may be forced to face serious legal threats to their freedom. When criminal charges become a matter that Mesa residents must confront, they can be well-served by seeking the counsel of legal professionals who represent criminal defense clients.