Oklahoma Search and Seizure Laws

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that we have a right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” While this remains one of the most important and fundamental rights afforded to us as Americans, it’s important to understand that there are situations in which police officers can legally search your person or property and seize evidence or contraband.

When Is Search and Seizure Legal?

A lawful search and seizure can take place under the following scenarios:

  • Search by consent: A search is lawful if a law enforcement officer asks you for permission to search your person, your vehicle or your home and you give consent.
  • Search by warrant: If a law enforcement officer believes a search can be justified, he or she may prepare an affidavit stating the reasons why it should be allowed and present those reasons to a judge. If the judge agrees, a search warrant will be produced and a lawful search may be conducted of the area(s) specified in the warrant.
  • The Plain View Doctrine: This doctrine states that if a law enforcement officer is in a place that he or she has a legal right to be and witnesses something illegal, that officer is legally justified in conducting a search.

Unlawful Searches and Motions to Suppress

Evidence that is seized in the course of an improper search may not be admitted at trial. If a search was conducted unlawfully, a defense attorney must submit a motion to suppress the evidence, and the court should then rule the evidence inadmissible.

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