Simply alleging that someone has committed a crime is not enough for criminal charges or an arrest to be made-allegations must be supported by proof. Law enforcement authorities and prosecutors need to collect evidence in a lawful manner, which means that they should not violate an individual’s right to privacy and freedom from unreasonable intrusion from the government. Pennsylvania residents facing criminal charges may not be aware that they have certain rights guaranteed by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution and this includes the protection against unlawful search and seizures.
This means that warrantless searches are prohibited under the Fourth Amendment, unless the situation falls under very specific exceptions. If someone has given consent to a search, then a warrantless search can be lawful. Similarly, if the search is incidental to a lawful arrest, a warrantless search may again be lawful. Lastly, if there exists a probable reason to conduct a search and exigent circumstances exist, it might be possible to allow a warrantless search.
Searches and seizures of abandoned property and items in plain view are generally considered lawful, as one is not expected to have a reasonable expectation of privacy regarding them. To prove that one’s rights have been violated, they must demonstrate that there was a justifiable expectation of privacy that was unreasonably violated by the government.
Property that has been collected as the result of an unlawful search and seizure may not be allowed as evidence in criminal proceedings. If someone is facing charges, they should consider consulting an experienced criminal defense attorney to discuss their options for their defense.