Seizure Law on California

“Search & Seizure”

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states that we have the right to be free from unreasonable “searches and seizures” by law enforcement. This applies to both federal and state agencies.

The Fourth Amendment’s rule against unreasonable search and seizures means that police may not search you or your property unless one of the following is true:

They have obtained a valid search warrant from a judge, or the search falls within one of a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement recognized by federal and California courts.

Exceptions to the warrant requirement:

Exceptions to the rule that police searches and seizures require a warrant vary depending on the type of property that is being searched.

Cell phones

There are special rules about when police may search “smartphones” and other electronic devices without a warrant.

For example, the exceptions that apply to police searches of cellphones are different from those that apply to police searches of vehicles.

But, generally speaking, exceptions to the warrant requirement for searches and seizures exist for:

Searches/seizures done with someone’s voluntary consent;

Searches/seizures incident to a lawful arrest, where the police are looking either for weapons that might be used against them or for criminal evidence that might otherwise be destroyed;