Unreasonable Search And Seizure Definition and Legal Meaning

On this page, you'll find the legal definition and meaning of Unreasonable Search And Seizure, written in plain English, along with examples of how it is used.

What is Unreasonable Search And Seizure?

(n) A law enforcing authority can search the premises and vehicles of an individual with an intention to seize evidence available from there. The search and seizer provisions contains certain conditions to be followed by the authority like a search warrant or reasonable cause before commencing the search. Any search without fulfilling the pre conditions are called unlawful search and seizer

History and Definition of Unreasonable Search and Seizure

Unreasonable search and seizure is a phrase used in the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution, which protects citizens from arbitrary and unwarranted searches and seizures by the government. The amendment was added to the Constitution in 1791, inspired by the British legal principle of "the right of people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures.”

Unreasonable search and seizure occurs when a law enforcement officer or government agency conducts a search or seizure without a valid search warrant or probable cause. Searches and seizures that are conducted without a warrant, or based on an insufficient warrant or with use of excessive force, are deemed to be unreasonable, and any evidence collected during these searches cannot be used against the accused in a court of law.

Examples of Unreasonable Search and Seizure

  1. Police officers enter a private residence without a warrant, probable cause, or the consent of the owner, and conduct a search.
  2. A police officer pulls over a car for a minor traffic violation and searches the car without probable cause or the driver's consent.
  3. Immigration officials conduct searches of people's homes without a warrant or probable cause.
  4. A judge issues a search warrant for a specific location, but law enforcement officers conduct the search outside the scope of the warrant, seizing items that are not listed in the warrant.
  5. A police officer uses excessive force to conduct a search, such as breaking down a door or using violence against a suspect.

Legal Terms Similar to Unreasonable Search and Seizure

  1. Probable cause: The legal standard that must be met for a search warrant to be issued or for an arrest to be made.
  2. Due process: The constitutional guarantee that are afforded to citizens by the legal system.
  3. Exclusionary rule: The legal principle that prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence in a criminal trial.
  4. Search warrant: A legal document issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement officers to conduct a search of a person or property.
  5. Consent search: When a person voluntarily agrees to allow a search of their person or property.