In Criminal


The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Still, it can be difficult to determine if your rights have been violated. In order to search or seize your property, law enforcement must have a warrant or probable cause. It is essential to know your rights under the Fourth Amendment and assess whether they have been violated in your situation. At Henderson and Henderson, we recognize the importance of protecting your rights. We are committed to defending your constitutional protections and ensuring accountability when these rights are breached.

What is Unlawful Search and Seizure?

The situation/term occurs when a law enforcement officer conducts searches, seizures, or confiscations without a warrant or probable cause. The Fourth Amendment explicitly prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures and requires warrants to be judicially sanctioned and supported by probable cause.

While police usually need a warrant to search or seize your property, there are some situations where they can do so without one. These exceptions include when you are under arrest, when you consent to the search, when there are unlawful items in plain view, or when there is an emergency. If the officer uses probable cause reasoning, they will search without your consent. However, even in these cases, police must still follow the rules set by the Constitution and respect your rights.

What is a Search Warrant?

It is a legal document issued by a judge that authorizes law enforcement officials to search a specific location, premises, or person. To obtain a search warrant, law enforcement must demonstrate to the judge or magistrate there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found during the search. The warrant specifically describes the place to be searched and the items or evidence law enforcement is authorized to seize. It must specifically describe where the search can take place and police are not allowed to expand the search to other areas without a good reason.

image of police searching car

Police can do a search without a warrant when officers use probable cause reasoning.

Understanding Your Rights

When confronted with a search or seizure by law enforcement, it is important to understand your rights.

  • You have the right to say no to a search if law enforcement does not have a warrant.
  • Also, you have the right to remain silent and seek legal representation if you believe your rights are being violated.
  • Read Police Stops & Identify, RAS & Law Enforcement, to learn more.

What to do during Unlawful Search and Seizure

  • Remember to remain calm and respectful during any encounter with law enforcement.
  • Avoid resisting or obstructing officers because doing so could escalate the situation and lead to further complications.
  • Instead, assert your rights respectfully and document the details of the encounter for future reference.

Looking for Support?

If you feel that an unlawful search of your property or person was conducted, contact our criminal defense lawyer as soon as possible. Call Henderson & Henderson Law firm in Charleston, at 8432123188 to get assistance and to protect your rights.

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