Police officers doing a home investigation searching for evidence

Understanding Search and Seizure Laws in Ohio

Wolf & Mote Law Group, LLC June 5, 2023

Have you been pulled over by a police officer and had your car searched without your consent?  

Have you had a search warrant executed at your home or workplace?  

If so, it's important to know your rights under the Fourth Amendment. In Ohio, a search and seizure can only occur if there is probable cause, as is the case with most other states. 

The team of criminal defense attorneys at Wolf & Mote Law Group, LLC is ready to help you navigate your legal challenges. Situations involving search and seizure can be overwhelming and confusing, so it’s crucial to reach out to a lawyer for guidance. If you live in Columbus or surrounding areas in Ohio, contact Wolf & Mote Law Group, LLC to set up a consultation. 

Your Rights Under the Fourth Amendment   

Your Fourth Amendment rights protect you from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that you have the right to be secure in your person, home, papers, and belongings against warrantless searches and seizures.  

However, there are exceptions to this rule. If a police officer has probable cause, they may conduct a search and seizure without a warrant.  

Probable cause is a term used in criminal law that refers to the level of suspicion a police officer must have in order to conduct a search and seizure.  

This means that the officer must have a reasonable belief that a crime is being committed or has been committed in order to conduct a search and seizure. 

Probable cause can be based on witness statements, evidence, or behavior. It's important to note that the term "probable cause" is subjective and can vary from case to case. A skilled attorney can help you fully understand your unique situation. 

Warranted Search and Seizure

So when is a search and seizure legal? 

If a search and seizure is not conducted with probable cause, a warrant is required. A warrant is a document signed by a judge that gives permission for a search and seizure to occur.  

The warrant must describe the place to be searched and the items to be seized. It's important to note that police officers cannot search areas or items that are not specified in the warrant. 

Valid Searches and Seizures Without Warrants

Can a search and seizure really be legal if there is no warrant? There are some situations in which Ohio law allows searches and seizures, even without a warrant.  

For example, if a police officer believes that a person is in danger of harm or that evidence is in danger of being destroyed, they may conduct a warrantless search. 

Search and seizure can also occur with consent. Keep in mind that if a police officer asks for your consent to search your car or home, you have the right to refuse.  

If you do give consent, however, the search and seizure becomes legal. It's important to note that anything found during a legal search and seizure can be used as evidence in court. 

Understanding the Exclusionary Rule

What is the exclusionary rule? 

The exclusionary rule is a legal principle that prohibits evidence obtained through illegal searches and seizures from being admitted in court.  

If the police obtained evidence through an illegal search or seizure, the trial will exclude evidence from that search. Among other purposes, this rule serves to deter police officers from engaging in unlawful searches and seizures. 

Get the Support of a Skilled Attorney

If you believe that your rights have been violated in a search and seizure incident in Ohio, you don’t need to go through this difficult time alone. It's important to seek the support of an attorney. An experienced criminal defense attorney can provide you with legal guidance and assistance, and can help you protect your rights. 

The team at Wolf & Mote Law Group, LLC can help you navigate the legal system in Columbus and anywhere else in Ohio. If you live in Dublin, Westerville, Gahanna, Hilliard, or surrounding communities, contact the firm today.