When does the Fourth Amendment protect against Utah searches?

In order to bring drug charges, police must have evidence of drug possession. This means that they actually have to find drugs in a person’s possession as evidence that a crime had occurred. To do this, police will often search people and their belongings.

Under the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, Utah residents are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures by governmental officials. Generally, a search is unreasonable if it is conducted in a place where people have a legitimate expectation to privacy. The definition of a reasonable search is very complicated, and many exceptions exist to the general rule. Therefore, those facing charges for drug possession need to have a basic understanding of what is and is not allowed under the law.

While Utah residents may think that they have an expectation to privacy in many areas, this is not always the case. The strongest place where people have a legal expectation to privacy is in their homes. Therefore, in most cases, police must have a search warrant to search for drugs or other illegal activity in a private residence. An expectation to privacy also exists in respect to a person’s handbag, briefcase or purse.

Cars, on the other hand, have a much lower expectation to privacy under search and seizure rules. As a result, police are often allowed to search cars without obtaining a warrant first. Garbage cans also have a lowered expectation of privacy under the law — making them searchable in many situations.

Evidence obtained in an illegal search or seizure is excluded from a courtroom. As such, it is important that people understand the basics of their Fourth Amendment rights when facing criminal charges for drug crimes.

Source: Findlaw.com, “Search and Seizure Law,” accessed on Aug. 25, 2014

Source: Findlaw.com, “Search and Seizure Law,” accessed on Aug. 25, 2014

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