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Overview of Search and Seizure Laws

Overview of Search and Seizure Laws

Search and seizure is fundamental element of criminal practice. It ties in directly with the process of discovery and the doctrines of reasonable suspicion and probable cause. It is a constitutional guarantee as expressed in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, and it is a critical right to every citizen — especially those suspected of criminal involvement.

Ohio has a long history of common law precedence and jurisprudence with regard to search and seizure, to wit: the Terry v. Ohio and Mapp v. Ohio benchmark opinions issued by the Supreme Court of the United States. Defendants in Ohio enjoy the protection of both the Fourth Amendment and Article I, Section 14 of the Ohio Constitution, which are essentially the same in scope.

Ensure your rights remain protected

Although law enforcement officials are sworn to uphold the law, the right of the people to be safe from unreasonable searches and unsubstantiated arrests is infringed upon with alarming regularity. When arrests and evidence are brought to prosecutors, they may spot a violation of constitutional rights and decide not to press charges, but in many cases, it is up to defendants to prove that their rights were violated.

An effective criminal defense takes into account the different components that make up search and seizure, from the right or expectation to privacy to what really constitutes a reasonable search, confiscation or arrest. Law enforcement officers cannot search and arrest at will, but they often do. When these situations arise, criminal attorneys consider the facts of the case and assess whether the rights of the defendant were respected or trampled. Proving an illegal search or arrest can quickly lead to a dismissal of charges.


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