Search warrants are not always required for a legal search

South Carolina residents value privacy in their cars, at home and when out in public. While the Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure, not all warrantless searches are illegal. At Law Office of Matthew J. Kappel, PC, often represent clients and fight for their protection from unlawful search and seizure.

A search generally requires a warrant. However, the law only guarantees against unreasonable search and seizure.  The level of protection provided to individuals depends on where the search occurs.

If an officer sees conduct deemed unusual or suspicious, he or she may stop you and make reasonable inquiries. This allows him or her to confirm or remove suspicions.

Although a legal home search typically requires a warrant, there are some exceptions:

  • When incriminating items are in plain view
  • When circumstances are urgent
  • When the search is an incidental component of a legal arrest
  • When an officer gets permission from you for the search

There are a variety of situations in which law enforcement can legally search a vehicle without a search warrant. Officers may conduct a traffic stop when they have probable cause. During a lawful routine traffic stop, law enforcement may also conduct a pat-down. They do not need to suspect you of criminal activity.

Under special conditions, law enforcement may stop vehicles on the highway without suspicion regarding specific vehicles. Officials may also set up checkpoints and ask for cooperation in an investigation of a recent crime that occurred on the road. It is also legal for narcotics detection dogs to walk the exterior of a car without specific or reasonable suspicion.

An experienced attorney can help you determine if you face criminal drug charges due to an illegal search and seizure of your home, car or person. Visit our webpage for more information on this topic.