When is a Search Warrant Invalid in Missouri?

A depiction of the police conducting a search and seizure of property.

If you’ve been charged with a crime, it’s the prosecution’s burden to prove (“burden of proof”) that you’re guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In many cases, prosecutors use evidence obtained through a search and seizure warrant. However, that evidence isn’t always legally obtained. 

The Fourth Amendment guarantees U.S. citizens protection against unreasonable search and seizures conducted by the government. Generally, search, and seizures are considered unlawful if they are conducted without a search warrant or outside the scope of an issued warrant (in most cases). 

That means that unlawfully obtained evidence can be thrown out of court and cannot be used against you in a criminal case. However, recognizing the signs of an illegal search and seizure in Missouri often requires a search and seizure attorney’s keen eye and legal expertise. 

At Kirsch & Kirsch, our attorneys carefully investigate instances of possible illegal search and seizure in every case. If we find that your rights have been violated, we will stop at nothing to ensure that all illegally obtained evidence against you is thrown out. Contact us today to learn more. 

What is a Search Warrant? 

According to RSMo. 542.266, a search warrant is defined as a written order of a court commanding the search of a person, place, or thing and the seizure of certain property found during a search. A Missouri search warrant can be issued by an appellate judge or by any judge within the jurisdictional boundaries of the people, places, or items that are searched.

What is Probable Cause? 

In addition to protection from unlawful searches, the Fourth Amendment also requires that law enforcement officers have probable cause to conduct searches, seize property, make an arrest, or obtain a warrant. Generally, a judge can find probable cause if there is a reasonable basis for believing that a crime was committed or evidence of a crime exists in the searched places. 

What Can Be Searched or Seized? 

Under RSMo. 542.271, a judge may issue a search warrant to search, seize, record, copy, or photograph the following, but not limited to: 

  • Property, substance, article, or material considered evidence of the commission of a crime 
  • Property acquired by theft or another illegal manner 
  • Illegal property (i.e., controlled substances, unlawful firearms, etc.)
  • Property used to manufacture illegal substances 
  • A kidnapped person
  • A person who has an outstanding valid felony arrest warrant 

It’s important to note that if the police conduct a warrantless search, the defendant must be brought in front of a judge quickly after the arrest to assess probable cause. 

Understanding the difference between valid and illegally obtained evidence can be the difference between a conviction and case dismissal. Contact an experienced lawyer for illegal search and seizures at Kirsch & Kirsch Attorneys today to learn more. 

Do The Police Need a Warrant to Conduct a Search and Seizure?

Generally, the police must wait for a judge to issue a search warrant before legally conducting a search and seizure of a person, place, or property. However, in some cases, law enforcement can conduct a search and seizure without a warrant. Examples include: 

  • The police are given voluntary consent to conduct a search 
  • Law enforcement notices evidence sitting in plain view 
  • Searches conducted during an arrest 
  • Emergencies 
  • The police believe you have contraband inside of your vehicle 
  • The police are chasing a criminal 

Further, an individual’s vehicle is not offered the same privacy protections as their home. That means that the police can search your car (without a warrant) during a routine traffic stop so long as they have probable cause to believe the vehicle stores criminal evidence. 

Contact a Missouri Search and Seizure Lawyer Today

Do you believe that you have been subjected to an illegal search and seizure? If so, it’s in your best interest to consult with an experienced criminal defense lawyer for search and seizures as soon as possible. 

If you’ve been charged with a crime in Missouri, our attorneys are trained to spot even the slightest infringement of your rights (i.e., illegal search and seizure) and swiftly take action to ensure unlawfully obtained evidence is suppressed. You have rights, and we’re here to help you assert them. 

Contact the search and seizure lawyers at Kirsch and Kirsch today for your free initial consultation.