Illinois residents should be aware of the limitations of police authority when it comes to search and seizure. United States citizens are entitled to privacy, but law enforcement authorities are allowed to search personal property under certain circumstances. Under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, police may conduct reasonable seizures and searches in cases where it is likely that a crime has occurred.
In order to prove that a search is reasonable, police must establish probable cause. Probable cause refers to the likelihood that the police will find stolen goods or criminal evidence in the impending search. In some cases, police must obtain a warrant from a judge before searching the property. Searches conducted without obtaining a search warrant must follow specific guidelines. Police may also seize or search items and places that do not come with a legitimate expectation of privacy, such as those that are out in the open for public view.
Other cases of justified search and seizure include searches based on informant tips and searches that are required to ensure the safety of police or other civilians. If the police discover evidence of stolen items that are in plain view, they may also be justified in extending the range of a search. If police believe that additional evidence is present elsewhere on the property after conducting an initial search, they may be able to search further without obtaining a warrant.
People who are facing criminal charges after having their residence searched may want to meet with a criminal defense attorney to discuss the circumstances of their case. If a warrant had been obtained, it can be reviewed to see if authorities went beyond the scope of what was permitted.