When Is A Search Or Seizure Illegal?


The Fourth Amendment safeguards basic privacy rights, protecting citizens against unreasonable searches or seizures. When performing a search and seizure on your person, vehicle or residence, law enforcement must abide by certain legal standards. Put plainly, if police suspect illegal activity they cannot perform a search and seizure without some reasonable, objective evidence of unlawful behavior. If they do conduct an illegal search or seizure, that evidence may be suppressed — meaning it can’t be used against you. In many cases (such as drug offenses), getting key evidence suppressed leads to dismissal of the charges, since the prosecution has nothing left to go on.

If you were subjected to an improper search or seizure in Pennsylvania, let the attorneys at the Bellwoar Kelly, LLP defend you.

Did Police Have Grounds To Perform A Search?

To perform a lawful search or seizure, police must generally have either your consent, a valid warrant, or (in some situations) probable cause of criminal conduct. These grounds must be based on the totality of the circumstances at the time of the search or seizure. In many cases, it takes a thorough legal analysis to determine whether police crossed a line — especially in gray areas — so you should always consult with a lawyer to discuss what happened.

Evidence obtained during an unlawful search and seizure cannot be used against you, which could lead to a dismissal of charges.

You may even be able to pursue an unlawful arrest claim if they illegally obtained evidence that led to your arrest.

Remain Silent During The Search

If you ever are subjected to a search, comply with law enforcement’s instructions but invoke your right to remain silent — even (and especially) if you have nothing to hide. Police officers can misinterpret or misreport even the most reasonable explanation. Anything you say can be used against you so it is best not to speak without a lawyer present.

Did Law Enforcement Illegally Collect Evidence?

If your civil rights were violated by an unlawful search or seizure, let us help. The facts of each case vary greatly. To discuss your situation further, we offer free consultations. Please reach out to us by email or call our West Chester or Pottstown offices at 610-314-7066 or 484-402-4500.