If an Iowa resident is suspected of committing a crime, police may search his or her home or seize property if it is evidence of that crime. However, there are limits to how far the government may go to collect this evidence. The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution says that only reasonable searches and seizures may be conducted. For instance, a search may generally not be conducted without probable cause.
This means that there is a high likelihood that a crime has taken place and that a search will uncover proof that it did. In some cases, it may be possible to claim that an individual had no expectation of privacy when police looked at an item. This would generally not be considered illegal because no search would have been conducted. In some cases, police may obtain a warrant to search for items in a home or other private area.
It is important to note that many searches do occur without first asking for one. If police do have a warrant, they are not necessarily limited to looking in areas listed on that document. A search can legally be extended if police fear for a person's safety or if they believe that evidence may be destroyed. It may also be widened if evidence is left in plain view during the original search.
If authorities discover evidence without probable cause, it may be used as a defense against any charge a person may face. In some cases, this may be enough to get a case thrown out entirely. However, it is also possible that having evidence suppressed may make it easier to get a plea bargain or otherwise obtain a favorable outcome in a criminal matter.