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In what situations is a search warrant required?

Citizens in Illinois and other parts of the country are protected by the Fourth Amendment, which prohibits illegal searches and seizures. However, there is some confusion as to when a search warrant is required and when a police officer can search you or your possessions without a warrant. Read on to understand the requirements.

A person's home is considered his or her castle, so law enforcement officials are not allowed to suddenly barge into a person's home without permission. The same goes for a person's vehicle. For the most part, a police officer cannot pull over a motorist for speeding and then proceed to search inside the car for drugs.

However, there are two principles to keep in mind. The most important thing is that there must be reasonable cause to search a person or his or her belongings. For example, if a police officer pulls over a person for speeding and sees a gun or baggie of drugs on the dashboard - in plain sight - then the officer would have a good reason to arrest the person and search the rest of the vehicle. However, if the officer searches the trunk for no good reason and finds a gun, then that gun cannot be used as evidence because it was obtained through illegal search methods.

Another principle to consider is the expectation of privacy. Authorities are not allowed to search a private area without a warrant. As an example, the inside of a person's house is considered private, while a person's front yard is not.

Sometimes police officers go above the law and perform illegal searches and seizures. If this happened to you, you may be acquitted of your alleged crime. Contact a lawyer to protect your legal rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Search Warrant Requirements" Sep. 06, 2014

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