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Law enforcement obligations in a search and seizure

Some people in Florida might wonder what legal powers the police have in regards to search and seizure. The Fourth Amendment allows law enforcement to do searches that are considered reasonable, but it is important to understand what the definition of “reasonable” is.

Reasonable” generally refers to the likelihood that law enforcement will find evidence of a crime. Often, police have to first convince a judge to issue a search warrant. Search warrants tend to be specific about what law enforcement can search although they can be expanded if further evidence is uncovered during the search. As an example, if law enforcement enters a room to search for stolen property and sees drugs, they can seize them. They can also make what is known as a “reasonable sweep.” This allows them to search areas where people might be hiding for safety reasons but not areas that people could not hide in, such as a drawer.

Police can also ask for permission to do a search, but this can also only be done on a limited basis in the agreed-upon area. There are also certain places where people are not considered to have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as trash left at the curb. Law enforcement can also perform a search in an emergency or enter a residence in pursuit of someone.

When a person is facing misdemeanor or felony charges, some evidence may have been obtained through a search. An attorney might look at whether the search was done legally. If law enforcement violated search laws, such as searching without probable cause or a warrant or extending the search beyond a reasonable area, it may be possible to get the evidence or even the case dismissed. An attorney might also look at whether an individual’s rights were violated at any other point.