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People in the State of Utah are protected against unreasonable searches and seizures by the government under the State and Federal Constitutions. If the government wants to perform a search or seizure of your private property, a police officer is generally required to appear before a judge with a sworn affidavit detailing the facts and allegations of their investigation. Additionally, the affidavit must describe the person, place, or thing to be searched or seized, which limits the scope of what the government is able to do during the execution of the search warrant. After the judge has considered the information in the affidavit, the judge determines whether probable cause exists to issue the warrant requested.

Do the police always have to get a warrant before they can perform a search or a seizure?

There are a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement that allow the police to perform searches and seize private property without first having to go through the process of appearing in front of a judge with a sworn affidavit. These exceptions are significant, often giving a skilled police officer solid grounds for performing a search and/or seizure of property without a warrant.

Some of these exceptions include situations where illegal items like drugs are in plain view of a police officer who is otherwise going about their ordinary business, searches and inventories of persons and property incident to arrest, and situations where the police ask permission and consent is given for the search or seizure. Oftentimes, the strength of the State’s case can be impacted significantly depending upon whether an officer did or did not need to get a warrant.

If my rights were violated, will my case be dismissed?

A criminal case against a person will not automatically be dismissed when a person’s search and seizure rights have been violated. Instead, the remedy courts apply is to restrict or suppress evidence that was obtained in violation of a person’s rights. In some cases, the suppression of this evidence might mean that the government no longer has enough evidence to continue with the prosecution and decides to dismiss the case. However, that’s not always the case, and oftentimes the prosecution determines to proceed with the case despite having certain evidence suppressed from presentation at the jury trial.

Each case is different, so please give us a call today if you have questions about searches or seizures of your property and want to understand what your rights are. We are a team of highly experienced criminal defense attorneys, and we are dedicated to vigorously defending our clients. Please call or contact us today to schedule a free consultation.