If law enforcement officials in Tennessee suspect that you or your vehicle has been involved in a crime, they may request to search your vehicle for possible evidence of the alleged criminal activity. If the search is done lawfully, the evidence they find can be used against you in court. However, because of the protections provided by the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, if an officer conducts an illegal search, any evidence found during the search will be inadmissible in court.
Where can an officer search?
Under the Fourth Amendment, you are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures in any place where you have a reasonable expectation of privacy (house, business office, purse, etc.).
When can an officer search?
If an officer has a valid search warrant signed by the judge, he or she can search the area specified in the warrant. However, there are exceptions that allow an officer to search without a warrant. Here are some examples of when officer can conduct a legal search without a warrant.
- The officer has consent.
- The officer has probable cause (reason to believe the suspect or the area has evidence of a crime).
- The officer is protecting himself from harm during a lawful arrest.
While many officers respect suspects’ constitutional rights, there are some officers that are more than happy to violate those rights to get the evidence they need. If you believe an officer searched you or your property unlawfully, a criminal defense attorney near you may be able to help.