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North Carolina police must follow search and seizure rules

One of the first rights the founders of the United States fought for was freedom from police searches that invaded the privacy of citizens and the sanctity of their homes. While laws now protect residents in North Carolina and across the country from illegal search and seizure, many citizens may not have a clear understanding of what law enforcement may and may not do when they want to search someone's home, car or body. In some cases, police may count on a person's lack of knowledge of their rights in order to overstep their boundaries.

Police may conduct a search to look for stolen items or evidence of wrongdoing. However, they may not arbitrarily search without first having a reasonable suspicion that the evidence is present. In some cases, they must detail their suspicions to a judge to obtain a warrant for a search. However, most searches are conducted without a warrant, which is why the subject of a search must be especially protective of his or her rights.

The subject of a search may grant permission for police to search without a warrant. Police may also conduct a search if they have a reasonable concern for public safety or if they fear that waiting for a warrant may result in the destruction of evidence. Officers with a warrant are limited to the scope of the warrant and may only search for specific items listed within certain areas. For example, if the warrant is limited to someone's house, police may not search the person's car or any outbuildings.

There are many fine lines over which North Carolina police could cross during a search and seizure. Evidence obtained during an illegal search may be excluded from a trial, so it behooves investigators to work within the parameters of the law. Those who are the subject of a police search would do well to seek legal counsel as soon as possible for the protection of their rights.

Source: FindLaw, "Searches and Seizures: The Limitations of the Police", Accessed on Feb. 7, 2018

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North Carolina police must follow search and seizure rules | Messer Law Firm