Evidence is the driving force for most criminal cases. Without sufficient evidence, prosecutors have a difficult time filing and winning the case.

For criminal defendants, examining types of evidence and methods of procurement is vital to the eventual outcome of the case. Defense attorneys investigate search warrants and seizure tactics to challenge the validity of evidence and exclude its use in court.

Illegal search and seizure

For many searches, law enforcement must obtain a search warrant. Texas laws define search warrants as a written order permitting a law enforcement officer to gather evidence for a case legally. For a judge to issue a warrant, he or she must feel that the requesting officer provides probable cause to look for evidence of a crime. Without a search warrant, any evidence an officer obtains is subject to heavy scrutiny and may be useless in court.

Legal searches without a warrant

There are certain situations in which an officer does not always need a warrant. According to FindLaw, searches such as these include:

  • Plain view—Officers do not need prior authorization to obtain evidence that is out in the open, as long as the officer is legally allowed in the area.
  • Emergency—If a lawbreaker is putting others at risk, officers may not need a warrant to search areas that are usually off-limits.
  • Consent—If a suspect willingly allows law enforcement to search his or her property, the officers do not need a warrant.
  • Searches incident to arrest—During or after an arrest, officers can search the person and his or her immediate surroundings for weapons or other dangerous items.

For those facing alleged criminal charges, it is important in determining if an illegal search and seizure took place when building a solid defense.