Madison, WI search and seizure attorneys

Challenging A Search And Seizure

An Effective Defense Starts with Challenging the Arrest

Every citizen of Wisconsin enjoys protection against unreasonable search and seizures. Part of that protection is that law enforcement needs to have probable cause or a warrant to arrest you. This protection comes from both the United States (Fourth Amendment) and Wisconsin (Article I, Section 11) Constitutions. The Wisconsin State Legislature has outlined when a search and seizure is authorized based on those constitutional protections. Furthermore, the federal and Wisconsin state courts have outlined what an officer may legally do based on the constitution. If law enforcement fails to follow the constitution and the law we will challenge their actions and move to suppress the evidence obtained.

Let Our Experienced Attorneys Analyze Your Case To Determine If We Can Challenge The Search In Your Case.

In many circumstances a criminal charge is the result of law enforcement searching your person, your car, or even your house. One way law enforcement can legally search you is a search incident to lawful arrest. A law enforcement officer may reasonably search the person arrested and an area within such person’s immediate presence for the purpose of:

  1. Protecting the officer from attack;
  2. Preventing the person from escaping;
  3. Discovering and seizing the fruits of the crime; or
  4. Discovering and seizing any instruments, articles or things which may have been used in the commission of, or which may constitute evidence of, the offense.

Wis. Stat. § 968.11. Although a police officer may search you when you are lawfully arrested, often the officer will over step their authority. For example, if you are arrested for operating a motor vehicle after revocation, the officer may search you or your vehicle for evidence of the that crime. The search is limited to discovering and seizing evidence of the crime you were arrested for. It is very unlikely that the officer can discover any additional evidence that you operated your vehicle after revocation. Any search in this situation should be challenged.

Was The Search Of Your Vehicle Legal?

A police officer may search your vehicle for weapons in certain circumstances. This type of warrantless search is only legal if you are unsecured and within lunging distance of your vehicle. The holding of Arizona v. Gant, a United States Supreme Court case, limits this search and does not authorize a vehicle search incident to a recent occupant’s arrest after the arrestee has been secured and cannot access the interior of the vehicle.

As we have indicated previously, many times felony criminal charges are the result of a search of your person or property. Whether it is a search of your person, vehicle or home, an officer may only perform a search under certain circumstances. Those circumstances include:

  • search incident to a lawful arrest;
  • search based on consent;
  • search pursuant to a valid search warrant;
  • and a search for weapons during temporary questioning.

Cases can be won by successfully challenging the search of your person or affects. If the search is found to have violated the fourth amendment, the evidence obtained can be suppressed.

Wisconsin Search and Seizure Attorneys

Anderson & O’Connell, S.C. will be a zealous advocate when challenging the validity of your search and seizure. Part of our job as Wisconsin Criminal Defense Attorneys is to scrutinize all issues regarding warrantless searches, search warrants, drug dog sniffs, and surveillance or wiretaps. Contact today to start your defense.