While you may not ever want to think about getting arrested in Iowa, it may happen. Understanding what your rights are regarding searches and seizures is a necessity so that you can be sure they’re abided by the police officer that arrests you. Many of these rights are listed under the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
What can the police do?
Police do have the right to engage in reasonable searches. Reasonable searches are defined as those where probable cause is valid. Probable cause simply means that the police have a good reason to believe that the evidence of a crime is in a specific location that they want to search. In order to search, the police will need to submit the probable cause to a judge. If the judge believes that probable cause exists, they will issue a search warrant.
The search warrant gives police officers the ability to search the location identified in the warrant. They are to be searching for only the specific items that are listed on the warrant. However, any criminal defense attorney can reveal that police may also search beyond what the warrant specifies if they spot apparent evidence of a crime that is in plain view.
A look at more specific cases
There are some situations that can be considered in a gray area of the law. For example, if you put your garbage out on the curb, the police may search it without a warrant. This is because there is no reasonable expectation of privacy of your garbage. In addition, the police may perform a search if there is an urgent or emergency situation where they do not have time to obtain a warrant. This is commonly referred to as exigent circumstances.
All citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures of their property. In most cases, police officers are going to need a warrant to go through your items. However, there are exceptions. It’s crucial to be aware of when these are so that you do not get charged for hindering an investigation.