What Are My Rights Involving Search and Seizure in Illinois?
If you are arrested on suspicion of a crime, police officers will likely want to perform a search and seize any evidence which could be used against you. However, they must follow the laws when doing so. If you believe your rights have been violated by an illegal search and seizure, you should seek legal counsel immediately. The laws can be complicated, and there is often a fine line between what police can and cannot do when it comes to searching and/or taking your property. Even if the police found and seized drugs or other illegal contraband from your property or person, you may be able to have that evidence suppressed if it was not legally obtained. The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, and an experienced attorney can determine whether your rights have been violated.
What Is Search and Seizure?
A “search” is a means through which government officials (usually police officers) go through a person’s house, vehicle, documents, and more, looking for evidence of illegal activity. In general, police will need a warrant to search a home or a car, but they can sometimes get around this if they have “probable cause.”
Probable cause is anything that would lead officers to reasonably believe that a crime has been committed. This can be a bit of a gray area in the law, as it is usually based at least partly on a police officer’s assessment of the situation at hand. A smell of drugs wafting through the window of a home if an officer has not breached the “curtilage,” that is, if they have not moved beyond the front porch of the home, could be considered probable cause to search the home. However, an officer having knowledge that an individual has been convicted of drug possession in the past does not constitute probable cause to search that person or his or her property.
The term “seizure” can be used to describe a situation in which a person thinks he or she was not free to leave, or an occurrence when an officer physically restrained a person. Seizure can also refer to officers taking one’s property, which is most often obtained as evidence to be used against that person. In some cases, police may also confiscate property (such as money or vehicles) that was involved in the commission of a crime through civil or criminal forfeiture.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you feel your rights have been violated in a search and seizure, it is possible your charges could be dropped or reduced by having any illegally obtained evidence thrown out. The skilled attorneys at the Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC will help ensure that the Fourth Amendment was not violated in your case, and we will work to help you recover any property that was improperly seized through forfeiture. A knowledgeable Naperville criminal defense attorney can fight for you while guiding you through the court process. Call 630-232-1780 to schedule a free consultation today.