Understanding Search and Seizure Laws in Kansas
May 12, 2023
Search and seizure are two common ways law enforcement officers obtain evidence when you are charged with a crime. However, it’s also common for law enforcement officers to infringe on your rights by conducting unwarranted searches or seizures.
If you have been the victim of an illegal search or seizure by law enforcement, it’s time to reach out to me. I am an experienced, detail-oriented criminal defense attorney in Lawrence, Kansas, who can help protect your rights when you need it the most. At Chahine Legal LLC, I am proud to serve individuals throughout Kansas and Missouri, including Olathe, Overland Park, and Lenexa.
Your Rights Under the Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution is a part of the Bill of Rights that protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government. This essentially means that individuals have the right to privacy in their own homes, belongings, and personal spaces. The government cannot search or seize items without a warrant or probable cause.
The Fourth Amendment also protects individuals from arbitrary and intrusive searches by law enforcement officers. If law enforcement officers violate an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights, any evidence obtained as a result of the illegal search or seizure might be deemed inadmissible in court. In fact, a recent bill in the Kansas Legislature looks to help protect individuals by increasing requirements for law enforcement officers to prove rightful searching and seizure of property.
Warranted Search & Seizure
A search or seizure is legal when conducted with a warrant based on probable cause. This means that before law enforcement officers can search a person, their property, or their belongings, they must obtain a warrant from a judge. The warrant must specify the place to be searched and the items to be seized. In some specific cases, a warrantless search and seizure may be legal, such as in situations where there is imminent danger or a need to prevent the destruction of evidence.
Valid Searches & Seizures Without Warrants
While the Fourth Amendment requires that searches and seizures be conducted with a warrant based on probable cause, there are circumstances where a warrantless search and seizure might be valid. Some examples of valid searches and seizures without warrants may include:
Consent searches. A warrant is not required if an individual consents to a search of their property or belongings. However, the consent must be voluntary and not the result of coercion or intimidation.
Search incident to arrest. If a person is lawfully arrested, the arresting officer may conduct a warrantless search of the person and the immediate surrounding area to ensure officer safety and prevent evidence destruction.
Plain view. If an officer sees evidence of a crime in plain view, such as drugs or weapons in a car, the officer may seize the evidence without a warrant. In general, it’s not wise to consider your car to be a completely safe space in terms of searches and seizures, especially if you are pulled over by the police.
Exigent circumstances. In certain emergencies with an immediate threat to public safety or the destruction of evidence, law enforcement officers may conduct a warrantless search and seizure. For example, if officers hear gunshots and enter a building to stop an active shooter, they may seize weapons and other evidence without a warrant.
It is important to note that the validity of a warrantless search and seizure will depend on the case’s specific circumstances. A court will consider factors such as the nature of the intrusion, the government’s interest in searching, and the individual’s reasonable expectation of privacy. If a warrantless search and seizure is found to be unconstitutional, any evidence obtained as a result of the search might be suppressed and not admissible in court.
Understanding the Exclusionary Rule
The exclusionary rule is a legal principle that holds that evidence obtained in violation of an individual’s Fourth Amendment rights must be excluded from the trial. The rule applies to evidence obtained as a result of an unlawful search or seizure, or to evidence obtained through a statement that was made involuntarily or without the presence of an attorney.
The exclusionary rule's purpose is to deter law enforcement officers from conducting illegal searches and seizures and to ensure that the courts do not condone or encourage such conduct. By excluding illegally obtained evidence from the trial, the rule seeks to prevent the government from benefiting from its own misconduct. Always confer with a skilled attorney to help you understand your unique situation.
Know & Protect Your Rights
At Chahine Law LLC, I’m ready to stand in your corner. From my office in Lawrence, I’m honored to serve clients who have been accused of crimes throughout Kansas and Missouri, including Olathe, Overland Park, and Lenexa. Set up a one-on-one consultation with me today.