What Should I Know About Search and Seizure in Massachusetts?

Being searched by the police can feel like a violation of your privacy, as well as an activity that leaves you incredibly nervous and unsure about what happens next. What’s more, you may believe that the police have a right to search your property or person in all situations—but this couldn’t be further from the truth. 

It’s important that you understand your rights related to search and seizure in Massachusetts, especially if you have criminal charges filed against you. At the Law Office of Paul R. Moraski, our Massachusetts criminal defense lawyer can help. Call our law firm today to learn more. 

What Is Search and Seizure?

Referring to a practice in criminal law, search and seizure occurs when law enforcement officers examine a person’s home, vehicle, business, person, or other property in order to secure evidence that a crime has been committed; if evidence is found, it is taken into police custody, and the owner of the evidence may be arrested. While illegal search and seizure is prohibited under the Fourth Amendment, unlawful search and seizure still occurs. When it does, a defendant’s rights have been violated. 

Your Rights Related to Illegal Search and Seizure in MA

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unlawful search and seizure. There are only two scenarios in which the police have the right to lawfully stop and search your person. These include:

  • The police have a valid search warrant. In order to secure a search warrant, the police must present probable cause to the court showing that they have reason to believe that a crime has been committed and that conducting a search will result in evidence of that crime. 
  • The search is permissible due to a legal exception to the warrant requirement. If the police do not have a search warrant, they may only conduct a search of your person or property if they have a legally permissible exception to the warrant requirement. Examples of legally permissible exceptions to the requirement include:
    1. You have given police permission to conduct the search, which you should not do
    2. The search is of your vehicle and the police have probable cause to conduct the search—i.e. they can visibly see a weapon, alcohol, or drugs within the vehicle
    3. The search is a result of the police seeing an incriminating item in plain view
    4. The search is conducted as a result of an “emergency” situation and is necessary to prevent physical harm or property damage

Why You Need a Lawyer When Facing Criminal Charges

If the police have obtained evidence against you as a result of a search and seizure and that evidence is being used by the prosecution to try to secure a conviction, you need an attorney! If the evidence was unlawfully obtained by way of illegal search and seizure, then your attorney will fight to have it withheld from court. The job of your criminal defense lawyer is to protect your Constitutional rights, ensure you have a fair trial, and work to secure the best case outcome possible.

At the Law Office of Paul R. Moraski, our Massachusetts criminal defense attorney can start working on your case today. Call (978) 397-0011 now or send us a message online to get started.