The Fourth Amendment Right Against Unreasonable Searches

As Minnesota criminal defense attorneys, one of the most common issues we deal with is the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches. This is a right that is guaranteed under both the United States and Minnesota Constitutions. It seems simple; a search is reasonable in one of two situations: (1) if the police have a search warrant, or (2) there is an exigent circumstance that requires foregoing the search warrant requirement. Yet, the Fourth Amendment and the standard for deciding the legality of police searches remains a constantly moving line and the most hotly contested issue in American and Minnesotan criminal laws. So, how is this right applied?

Additional Fourth Amendment resources:

Any Evidence Found During an Illegal Search Should be Suppressed

First, it means that any evidence obtained as a result of an unconstitutional search should be suppressed by a judge. This is known as the “exclusionary rule.” Further, it means that any evidence found as a result of an unconstitutional search should similarly be suppressed. So, if the police search your car illegally and find a key to a safe deposit box in which they find physical evidence of a crime, that evidence would be inadmissible. This is called the“fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. But, under the Fourth Amendment, how do you know if a search is constitutional or unconstitutional?

Is Your Criminal Charge Based on an Illegal Search

Minnesota courts are supposed to decide whether a search was reasonable on a case by case basis. At the most basic level, a search is unreasonable (and therefore unconstitutional) if the police don’t obtain a search warrant signed by a judge. In order to obtain a search warrant, police must submit an application to a judge. The application must provide facts sufficient for a judge to find that there is probable cause to believe a search would result in evidence of criminal activity. Minnesota police must demonstrate a “nexus,” AKA a connection, between the place or thing named and a crime that was committed.

However, there are exceptions to the rule that police must obtain a search warrant. For instance, if the police have reason to believe that the delay created by seeking a search warrant will cause evidence to be destroyed, and there is probable cause to believe evidence of a crime will be found, a search warrant will not be required. Minnesota law and Federal law create a number of such exceptions, which are a constant source of legislation and debate.

Minneapolis, MN Criminal Defense Attorneys

This is the first in a series of forthcoming blog posts by Minnesota criminal defense attorney Joshua London meant to give you a better understanding of your rights under Minnesota law. However, these laws are quite complex and are constantly changing. If you believe that you or a loved one may have been the victim of an unlawful search by Minnesota police officers, contact the Minneapolis and St. Paul, Minnesota criminal defense attorneys at Brockton D. Hunter, P.A., We have successfully challenged unconstitutional searches across the state of Minnesota. Our Minnesota criminal defense attorneys are know for their aggressive and creative arguments challenging the admissibility of evidence.