Search and Seizure Basics

Protection against search and seizure is a basic Constitutional right. In this blog, an Omaha criminal attorney explains what you need to know about search and seizure rules.


Two conditions must be present for an intrusion by the government to be considered a search:

  • A subjective expectation of privacy was manifested by the individual in the challenged search; and
  • That expectation is deemed reasonable by society at large.

It’s crucial to establish that an intrusion is actually a search. Without it also being a search, there’s no justification for it. In other words, conducting a search suggests that there is reasonable suspicion or probable cause for the intrusion.

As your Omaha criminal attorney can tell you, police don’t need justification of any kind to take the following actions:

  • Look into open car windows;
  • Approach someone on the street and ask questions; and
  • Shine a flashlight into a car while standing outside it.


The conditions that are required for the lawful seizure of a person are simple enough to understand. It can occur when a reasonable person would believe, under the circumstances, that he isn’t allowed to decline a law enforcement official’s request or that he’s not free to leave. In such a situation, the person might terminate the encounter, and that’s when a seizure might occur.

A show of authority or use of force is required by the Fourth Amendment under these circumstances to prevent an individual from leaving.

However, the Supreme Court of the United States lists four scenarios in which a person might believe a seizure is happening even though he hasn’t attempted to leave:

  • The open display of a weapon by an officer;
  • A tone of voice or language on the part of an officer suggesting that compliance might be compelled;
  • The presence of several police officers; or
  • Physical touching of the citizen.

Retain a Skilled Omaha Criminal Lawyer Now

If you believe you were unlawfully searched or seized, it’s crucial to hire a competent lawyer.