Understanding Florida’s Search and Seizure Law

Search and Seizure

The Fourth Amendment to the United States of America states that Americans are constitutionally protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement and government agencies.

"The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but on probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized".

All searches must be done with a search warrant in place unless a search warrant exception exists. Any evidence of criminal activity cannot be used against an accused person if seized during a search conducted without a warrant or valid exception to the warrant requirement.

A search warrant is an order issued by a judge authorizing law enforcement to search property protected by the Fourth Amendment. Law enforcement officers are authorized to search for items specified in the search warrant.

Florida’s search and seizure laws are comprehensive.

Searches

A search occurs when a government or law enforcement agent conducts a search of your property, information, or conversations and a warrant must be obtained first.

Americans are protected from unreasonable searches from law enforcement or government agents under the Fourth Amendment. If a law enforcement or government agent conducts a search on your property and finds something illegal without having a warrant, without you being under arrest, or if they have no reason to suspect you have something illegal, the items found will not be able to be seized.

Seizures

An unreasonable seizure of property is also prohibited under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution. Your privacy is protected under a search whereas your property is protected when there is an unreasonable seizure. If you, yourself is being seized and you are not free to leave, there must be probable cause or reasonable suspicion that you were involved in criminal activity.


Circumstances in which a Law Enforcement Agent May Conduct a Search: Warrant Exceptions

    • Terry Stops - brief detentions in which an officer has reasonable suspicion that a person was involved in criminal activity.
    • Search Upon Arrest - Florida courts hold that officers are justified in searching a person’s property upon making an arrest.
    • Automobile Searches - There is a lesser expectation of privacy in a vehicle than in one’s home. Because a vehicle is mobile, a suspect can quickly drive away with any suspected contraband, an officer can seize an item without a warrant if it is in plain view during a traffic stop.
    • Home Searches - There must be probable cause for an officer to search a person’s home without a warrant.
    • Consent - If a person consents to a search, they effectively waive their Fourth Amendment right against unlawful searches and the officer does not need to have probable cause or reasonable suspicion to conduct a search.
    • The Exclusionary Rule - A judicially created doctrine that serves as an enforcement mechanism remedies violations of the Fourth Amendment.
    • The Good Faith Exception to the Warrant Requirement - The U.S. Supreme Court created a good faith exception that says if a law enforcement agent acted in good faith, evidence will be admitted.

Ronald S. Chapman

Ronald S. Chapman is an experienced defense attorney who can represent you if you think you have been a victim of an unlawful search and seizure.

Defense Attorney West Palm Beach

Ronald Chapman practices criminal defense in both State and Federal Courts within the State of Florida. Since 1990, Mr. Chapman has been representing people accused of committing various types of crimes. If you are facing criminal charges in Florida, Ronald Chapman can help.

Schedule your FREE Consultation! Call (561) 832-4348 or visit his website.

Visit us at https://www.justiceflorida.com/ You can also connect with the West Palm Beach Criminal Defense Office online today! Ron Chapman, an experienced criminal defense lawyer, dedicated to defending your rights. Contact him today to begin to discuss your case.

 

Ronald S. Chapman, P.A.
400 Clematis Street, Suite 206
West Palm Beach, FL 33401
561-832-4348

 

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