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When can the police search my home, car or body?

We all make lapses in judgement from time to time. You might have dabbled in recreational drugs occasionally and assumed that because you were not harming anyone else in the process that your drug use was safe and reasonable. However, this could not be further from the truth.

To put it bluntly, the possession of controlled substances in South Carolina is illegal. It does not matter if the drugs are in your home, in your car or on your person. Fortunately, you do have rights under the Fourth Amendment that protect your interests from unreasonable searches and seizures.

Unreasonable search and seizure of your home

If the police come knocking at your door and ask to come in, you need to understand your rights to refuse them entry and your other options. First, to search for alleged evidence and seize said evidence in your home the police must have a warrant.

Of course, there are exceptions. If you allow the police into your home to perform a search and seizure you waive your Fourth Amendment rights. If it is a search incident to a lawful arrest, this is also permissible. If the drugs are in plain view, meaning they are out in the open for anyone to see, they can be seized without violating the Fourth Amendment.

Unreasonable search and seizure of your car

If you are pulled over on I-85 and the police ask to search your car, you need to understand whether they have a legal right to do so. If police have probable cause to believe there is evidence of a crime in your car, the police are allowed to search any area of the car where the alleged evidence may be located.

For example, the police may search your glovebox if they are looking for something small like a baggy of drugs. However, if police are looking for a large item, such as a hunting rifle that could clearly not fit in your glove box then the police could search other areas of your car where a hunting rifle may be located, but not your glovebox.

Unreasonable and seizure of your person

You are entitled to a certain amount of bodily autonomy. Police can only give you a pat down or question you under certain circumstances. If the police observe you acting strangely and thus could reasonably infer that you may have committed a crime, then the police can briefly stop you and ask you reasonable questions regarding the crime allegedly committed or pat you down for weapons if they feel their safety or the safety of the public is at risk.

However, police cannot stop you indefinitely and you have the right to remain silent per the Fifth Amendment.

Know your rights when confronted by police

If you are stopped by police on suspicion of a drug crime whether you are on foot, driving or in your home it is important that you understand your rights. Police can only perform a search and seizure under certain circumstances.

If the police overreach and perform a search or seizure that is unlawful, the evidence obtained may not be used against you in court. This is an important component of ensuring police do not overstep their bounds in an effort to arrest someone who is entirely innocent.


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