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Search and Seizure

San Francisco, California Search & Seizure Lawyer

The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution prevents the government from conducting unreasonable searches. This means that the police cannot stop and search you, your car, or your house unless certain circumstances exist. Call 800.242.1514 now for further information.

When Can the Police Search My House?

Generally, the police will have to obtain a search warrant to enter and search your home. To obtain a warrant, the police must demonstrate that they have probable cause to believe there is evidence relevant to the commission of a crime contained in the house. A magistrate judge will determine whether the police have sufficient probable cause to issue the search warrant. A valid warrant must describe the location of the house and the property the police are looking for.

The police can also search a house without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe a crime is occurring at the very moment they want to search the house. For example, if a policeman is on the street and hears screams coming from inside a house, the officer likely has probable cause to enter and search the house.

When Can the Police Search My Car?

If an officer pulls you over without reason, the officer cannot legally search the car. However, if the officer legally stops you for a traffic violation (e.g., speeding), your car may be searched only if the officer has probable cause to believe your car contains evidence of a crime or illegal substances. Lastly, an officer may stop and search your car if he observes you committing or fleeing a crime.

When Can the Police Search My Person?

If the police have obtained a search warrant (as described above), they can search you. The police can only search your person without a search warrant if they have probable cause to believe you were engaged in criminal activity. The police may do a pat-search of the exterior of your clothing if they have reasonable suspicion that you possess a weapon or contraband (ie. narcotics).

When Else Can the Police Search My Person, Car, or House?

Other circumstances exist where you may be legally searched, such as if you are on probation. To determine whether you were illegally searched, you should consult an experienced attorney. Call 800.242.1514 now for further information.

What Happens If I Am Illegally Searched?

If your person, car or house has been illegally searched by the police, then the police cannot use the evidence they obtained from that search against you. For example, if an officer finds marijuana in your car during an illegal search, then the prosecution cannot use that evidence against you in court.

How Can I Prove that I Was Illegally Searched?

Proving that you were illegally searched can be very difficult. The law on this issue is very complex and difficult to understand. But if you can prove you were unlawfully searched, the charges against you could be dismissed. We can help you determine whether you were illegally searched and help get that evidence kept out of court. Contact our office at 800.242.1514, 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to find out what we can do to help you with your case.

If you have questions regarding search and seizure, contact defense attorney Seth P. Chazin for a free consultation. We represent clients in San Francisco, Oakland, the surrounding bay areas, and throughout California.


“The death penalty is a lie, a misguided mistake born of anger and frustration. Capital punishment has become a perverse monument to inequality, to how some lives matter and others do not. It is a violent example of how we protect and value the rich and abandon and devalue the poor. The death penalty is a grim, disturbing shadow formed by the legacy of racial apartheid and bias against the poor that condemns the disfavored among us, but corrupts us all. It’s the perverse symbol elected officials use to strengthen their ‘tough on crime’ reputations and distract us from confronting the causes of violence. It is finally the enemy of grace, redemption and all of us who recognize that each person is more than their worse act.”
- Bryan Stevenson