The U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution provide many protections for people who are suspected of crimes. One of the most important protections that people have is that they are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This is a protection granted under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and the Florida Constitution as well.
The Supreme Court of the United States has shaped what is deemed an unreasonable search or seizure through various decisions over the years. Through these decisions there have been distinctions made based on the location of the search or seizure.
Protections in homes
People have the greatest protections inside their homes. For most searches of a home, police will need to have a search warrant signed by a Judge in order to enter the home. There are a few exceptions to this rule though. Those are 1) if the police were given permission; 2) if the search occurred as part of a lawful arrest; 3) if there is an exigent circumstances and 4) if there are items in plain view when for instance people open the door to initially speak with the police.
Protections in cars
People have fewer protections against searches of their vehicles though. If police have probable cause to believe that there is criminal activity taking place inside the vehicle or that there are drugs in the vehicle, they can search it without a warrant. They can also conduct pat down searches of the driver and passengers. They can also have dogs sniff the outside of the vehicle for drugs. Police can also generally stop a vehicle for any traffic violation regardless of the seriousness of the violation.
Protections for people
Police can also stop people out in public and conduct a pat down search of their person if they believe there may be some criminal activity taking place. They can conduct these brief searches to simply determine if their suspicions are accurate and also to ensure their safety by determining if the person has weapons on them.
While the people of Florida are protected from unreasonable searches, there are many exceptions and what is deemed a reasonable search can be fairly broad, especially when searching vehicles. There are still many times when even these searches are unreasonable though or police may enter homes without a valid search warrant. If the search and seizure was illegal, the evidence that the police recover could be thrown out and convictions become very unlikely. Experienced attorneys understand the legality of searches and seizures and may be able to help protect one’s rights.