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UNDERSTANDING SEARCH & SEIZURE LAWS IN TEXAS

Rick Davis & Associates Attorneys at Law May 15, 2022

In 2019, more than 805,879 crimes were committed in the state of Texas. That’s 2,779 crimes for every 100,000 people, and includes everything from petty theft to murder. If you have been arrested or charged with a crime, chances are that law enforcement agents have collected evidence in order to pursue charges against you. The key question: how was that evidence collected?

Everyone makes mistakes and that includes the government. When a mistake involves law enforcement, most individuals understand their basic Miranda rights—you have the right to remain silent, you have the right to an attorney, and anything you say can be used against you in a court of law. However, few people fully understand their rights under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution which protects them against illegal searches and seizures. 

Search and seizure cases are complex and depend heavily on the individual facts involved. If you have been arrested or face criminal charges in Texas, the first step is to contact a Texas criminal defense attorney who handles civil rights matters. At Rick Davis & Associates Attorneys at Law, I work with clients whose constitutional rights may have been violated by the government. Regardless of the nature of your arrest or charge, I can advise you as to whether or not you have a claim and support you in your defense. Set up a consultation as soon as possible.

Fourth Amendment Rights

According to the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution:

“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

This Constitutional Amendment protects citizens from illegal searches and seizures by law enforcement. It also puts specific guidelines in place for law enforcement in order to conduct any searches of property. To enter private property, law enforcement must have a valid search warrant—signed by a judge—that states the reasons for the search (such as a potential crime having been committed) and the specific areas that may be included in the search.

Although the Fourth Amendment protects search and seizure rights, there are several instances where law enforcement may conduct a search without a warrant. Because of these exceptions, it is paramount that you contact my office for help understanding your rights.

Unreasonable Search & Seizure In Texas

Under the Fourth Amendment, a search done by law enforcement is deemed unreasonable if:

  • There was no valid search warrant, and/or

  • The search does not fall under a recognized exception to the warrant requirement

Exceptions To The Warrant Requirement

A search warrant is normally required by law before police officers can search any private property, but there are some exceptions to this, such as: 

  • If a person gives their consent 

  • If the officer believes evidence may be destroyed or needs to protect their own personal safety 

  • If an officer believes a vehicle contains criminal evidence, particularly in plain sight

Outside of these situations, a police officer is not permitted to enter your property and conduct a search and/or seizure. If the evidence against you has been obtained through an illegal search, I may be able to file and litigate motions to suppress the evidence illegally obtained. These motions demand that the court exclude that evidence from consideration by the jury during your criminal trial. If the evidence is thrown out, the prosecution’s case against you may be destroyed and your charges may be dismissed.

How An Attorney Can Help

The laws surrounding illegal searches and seizures are perfectly straightforward. There are several exceptions to the warrant requirement, and the meaning of phrases like “probable cause” isn’t always clear. As a result, understanding search and seizure laws in Texas can feel overwhelming. You deserve an attorney on your side who is experienced in handling civil rights cases

At Rick Davis & Associates Attorneys at Law, I understand that there are always two sides to every story. No American should have their privacy rights violated because of unconstitutional law enforcement actions. I will aggressively fight to hold the government accountable and demand fair compensation when they infringe upon civilians’ rights. I proudly serve clients in Bryan and the surrounding areas including College Station, Brenham, Anderson, Madisonville, Caldwell, Washington County, and the rest of Texas. Schedule a consultation with me today.