If your home, car or premises has been searched by law enforcement in Tennessee, you may be wondering whether that search was actually allowed by law.
Authorities in Tennessee, as well as in all other states, are required by law to abide by certain rules when searching for evidence. These protections are granted to every United States citizen under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. But, this doesn’t mean that the rules are always followed.
In every criminal case, it is important to investigate the circumstances surrounding a search. Here is an overview of how the law works.
What limitations are placed on authorities during a search?
Knowing what the police are not allowed to do during a search can help you ensure your rights and best interests are protected. Authorities are not allowed to:
- Conduct a search without a warrant in a place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy. For example, this place of privacy can include your person, home or vehicle.
- Use evidence obtained from illegal or unreasonable searches against you in a trial.
- Use evidence that was found during an illegal search in order to obtain additional evidence.
- Search a vehicle without a warrant unless there is a reasonable suspicion that it contains illegal items, stolen goods or other evidence.
- Perform a “stop and frisk” action unless they have a reasonable suspicion to believe that you are engaged in a criminal activity.
What methods are authorities legally permitted to use during a search?
While there are limitations to police investigations, law enforcement is allowed to:
- Conduct “reasonable” searches with probable cause. Authorities must prove that it is more likely than not that a crime has occurred and that they can obtain evidence of the crime with the search.
- Search and/or seize items that are left in an area where there is not an expectation of privacy. An example of this would be evidence left on the hood of your car.
- Search your property without a warrant if you give consent.
There are laws that protect your rights when being searched by police, but there are also regulations that can assist law enforcement officials in gathering evidence against you.
If you have been subject to a search or seizure and you think your rights may have been violated, or if you are concerned about any charges you face, you should contact an experienced Tennessee criminal defense attorney.