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Can a person refuse search and seizure?

On Behalf of | Mar 26, 2022 | Asset Forfeiture

Every day citizens and criminal suspects are protected from unreasonable searches from law enforcement in places where they have the right to expect privacy by the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. This applies to people, homes, property and businesses.

Law enforcement may seize any assets related to or involved in the commission of a crime. In Alabama, criminal charges are not necessary for seizures to occur. Law enforcement may initiate the seizure of items based on suspicion of their involvement in criminal activity.

Can a person decline or refuse?

If you refuse to allow law enforcement to enter to conduct a search, they might do so anyway without your consent or leave and come back with a warrant. If you physically try to stop them, you may be subject to temporary detainment or arrest.

What happens without a warrant?

There is not a cut-and-dry answer to this question as it depends on the details of each case. Without probable cause or a crime in progress, law enforcement cannot enter premises to conduct a search without a warrant or permission to enter from the owner. A judge may rule evidence obtained through unlawful search and seizure as inadmissible if you can prove that officers lacked the proper authority to conduct the search.

An unlawful search will not protect you from prosecution. There may be enough other evidence for the case to proceed without the suppressed evidence. In some cases, a judge may still consider evidence obtained through an unlawful search.

In Alabama, law enforcement actually has an incentive to conduct seizures as they keep all proceeds from the sale of seized assets.