Establishing a Search and Seizure of a Person

When it comes to search and seizures that are conducted by governmental authorities, it must be established, first and foremost, that the government’s intrusion is, in fact, a search. A search exists when an intrusion occurs and two conditions are present: (1) a person manifests a subjective expectation of privacy with regard to the object of the questionable search, and (2) society believes that having such an expectation is fair and reasonable. Keep in mind, though, that you only need probable cause or reasonable suspicion for intrusions that are deemed to be searches.

You should note, however, that police officers do not need justification to look into open windows, shine a flashlight into a car from the outside, or walk up to a person on the street and ask him or her questions, as long as there is no official coercion to even stop or reply. A knowledgeable South King County criminal lawyer can assist you if you believe that you have been involved in a questionable search.

The seizure of a person takes place when a reasonable person would have believed that he or she was not at liberty to leave or to reject an officer’s request and end the encounter. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment requires that there must be some use of force or a show of authority to which a person submits.

Further, the Supreme Court has enumerated four circumstances that may show the existence of a seizure, even where a person did not try to leave. Those include the display of a weapon by an officer, the threatening presence of many officers, a physical touching of the person, and the officer’s tone of voice or use of language that compliance may be compelled.

If you need a South King County criminal lawyer, call South King County criminal attorney for a free consultation.

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