A warrantless search might be illegal and could lead to the suppression of evidence.
If a judge finds that a search was in violation of the 4th Amendment Right to be free from an unreasonable search and seizure, they might rule that any evidence obtained is inadmissible.
Court’s Interpret if a Search Was Illegally Conducted
On March 3, 2015, the United States Supreme Court heard oral argument on an important search and seizure case. The case results from a challenge to an ordinance in Los Angeles that allowed law enforcement to search hotel and motel guest registers without probable cause or a warrant. The legal issue is illegal search and warrantless seizure.
The ordinance appears to have been enacted to provide a disincentive for the short-term use of hotels or motels for criminal activity. The district court said that hotels had no reasonable expectation of privacy in their guest information. The court of appeals disagreed and determined that hotels did have a limited privacy interest in their registry.
Illegal Search and Warrantless Seizure in Hotels and Motels
It is important to note that this case involved just the hotel owners and NOT guests.
The hotel owners argue that just because a business is highly regulated does not mean that there should be unlimited access to records. The owners pointed to Riley v California, stating that the 4th amendment’s warrant requirement should apply with special care to cell phones.
Fourth Amendment issues often cause constitutional fireworks, and today’s Supreme Court Justices are indeed divided on their approaches on search and seizure issues. It will be interesting to see the court’s decision.
Criminal lawyers who know and understand the Constitution are your best bet.
If you face something that you think rises to the level of a constitutional issue or challenge, no matter if the issue is big or small, you should have legal help from an attorney who knows and understands the Constitution and the Bill of Rights. There are hundreds of years of cases interpreting the Constitution. Many of these cases were controversial at the time but taken for granted now.
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