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When Do Police Have the Right to Search Personal Property in Texas?

Posted on in Criminal Defense


Frisco, TX criminal defense attorney unlawful searchIt is not always easy to understand where police officers’ authority ends and citizens’ constitutional rights begin. If you are like many people, you may be unsure of what rights are afforded to you by state and federal law. You may also be unsure of how those rights apply to police searches and seizures. It is crucial for every citizen to know when police do and do not have the right to search personal property. If police officers discover evidence of a crime in an unlawful search, that evidence may be inadmissible or unusable during criminal proceedings.

Rights Protected by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution

The Fourth Amendment enforces our right to be free of “unreasonable searches and seizures” by government officials like police officers. A government official cannot simply search a person’s home or belongings or take a person’s property for no reason. However, police searches that meet certain criteria are permissible under the Fourth Amendment and other legislation. Our expectation of privacy also varies depending on the type of property in question. For example, police do not have to obtain a search warrant before they search a motor vehicle.

When Can Police Search My Car?

In order to legally search your car, truck, van, or another vehicle, at least one of the following elements must be present:

  • Police receive consent or permission to search from the driver/owner of the vehicle

  • Police have “probable cause” or reasonable suspicion that there are illicit items or evidence of a crime in the vehicle

  • The driver/owner of the vehicle has been arrested

  • The police have a reasonable belief that a vehicle search is necessary for their own safety

Police must also have probable cause for pulling the driver over. Police may only initiate a traffic stop if they reasonably believe that the driver has violated a traffic law.

When Can Police Search My Backpack, Purse, or Pockets?   

Police are authorized to search your clothing, bag, or belongings, if:

  • You are arrested

  • Illegal items are in “plain view”

  • You give them consent to search you or your belongings

  • Police have a reasonable suspicion to believe that the search is needed to protect officers or other people from an imminent threat

  • Police have probable cause to believe that your clothing or belongings contain illegal items such as drugs or weapons

  • You are entering a protected area such as a courthouse or correctional institution

Contact a McKinney Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you or a loved one were charged with drug possession or another crime and you suspect that the police conducted an unlawful search, contact a Collin County criminal defense attorney right away. If police searched your property illegally, any evidence discovered during the search may be inadmissible in court. Call the Law Offices of Biederman & Burleson P.L.L.C. at 469-333-3333 for a free, confidential consultation.

Source:

https://constitution.congress.gov/constitution/amendment-4/

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