Search & Seizure Issues

Your case may have search and seizure issues. These issues can exist where the police stop of a vehicle, stop a person, arrest a person, search a house, search a container, or make any type of a search or stop.

If you believe that there may be a search or seizure issue in your case, contact me for an in-office appointment. I can analyze the facts in your case to see whether your best defense involves a search and seizure issue — something which may even lead to a case dismissal!

What Is A Search?

Generally, a search is just that — a police officer looking for something. The constitution protects individuals from unreasonable searches. Court will review the facts surrounding a search to determine if it was reasonable. Where a search is unreasonable, evidence found as a result may be thrown out.

The reason for the search will show whether the scope of the search was reasonable. Different rules apply for evidence discovered in plain view, evidence found in a closed container, evidence found on a person, evidence found in a car or house and evidence found in other ways. The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Art I, Sec 11 of the Michigan Constitution protect individuals from "unreasonable searches and seizures." A warrant may be required for a search of persons, houses, papers and effects. Based on the facts in your case, the search may be allowable or it may be in violation of the federal and/or Michigan constitutions.

Certain searches generally are allowed as reasonable. These searches include: A search following consent to search, search incident to arrest, search of a vehicle for safety or exigency, vehicle inventory search and a search pursuant to a warrant based on probable cause.

What Is A Seizure?

Generally, a seizure involves taking custody of something. Seizure of a person involves some deprivation of free movement. Examples of seizures include: police pulling over your car, you being stopped and questioned by police, store detectives questioning a potential shop-lifter, and being placed in hand-cuffs. Where a seizure is illegal, the exclusionary rule may result in evidence being thrown out of court.

Do The Police Need A Warrant?

The U.S. and Michigan constitutions require warrant under certain circumstances. Any warrant must be obtained in accordance with the constitutional requirements for obtaining a warrant.

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 upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. (Fourth Amendment U.S. Constitution.)

Was a warrant required in your case? If so, did the search stay within what was allowable? Are there any exceptions or increased requirements which apply in Michigan? Knowing the rules and applying them to your facts is your best defense to the charges in your case. Call for your appointment today!

The Exclusionary Rule

When a search and seizure is unreasonable, evidence which is the fruit of the illegal act must be excluded from evidence. However, it is sometimes difficult to sort out that evidence which is the product of the illegal search, and that evidence which was or would inevitably be discovered or was independently discovered in the absence of the illegal search. These are complicated legal issues, and require research and application to the facts in your case. If the evidence in your case was obtained illegally, you still need legal help. If the key evidence in your case is excluded, it can even lead to the charges against you being dismissed!

The Michigan Exception To The Warrant Requirement

There is at least one Michigan exception to the "exclusionary rule." A search will not bar from evidence in a criminal proceeding:

  • "...any narcotic drug, firearm, bomb, explosive or any other dangerous weapon, seized by a peace officer outside the curtilage of any dwelling house in this State."