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Was your search and seizure legal?

When law enforcement officers seek to gain more information about a suspected crime, they occasionally need to engage in a search and seizure. This involves entering a private property to try to obtain evidence in relation to a crime, or illegal material such as unlawfully owned guns or drugs.

Search and seizures are very controversial under the law because many argue that they contradict the rights that citizens have to their private property. Therefore, search and seizure operations have very strict rules.

What are the rules for search and seizures?

First of all, law enforcement officers must obtain permission from a judge before they can make a search and seizure. The judge will determine that it is a necessary and appropriate cause before they sign permission. A search and seizure cannot, therefore, take place spontaneously; careful thought and planning must have been put into it.

Exceptions to this rule

One of the key exceptions to this rule when it comes to searching a person's home is the instance of emergency. When there are extremely tight time constraints, it may not be physically possible to obtain a warrant from a judge. In these cases, the police may use their intuition to determine that entering the property will be worthwhile. Technically, however, they are not allowed to do so except under very specific circumstances; therefore, it can create a gray area within the law.

If you believe that you were subject to an unlawful search and seizure, then you have the right to pursue this legally. If you have been accused of a criminal offense, you may be able to use this complaint as part of your defense.

Source: ACLU Ohio, "Search and Seizure," accessed Dec. 28, 2017

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