The rights of an individual on probation and the search of their house differ from those who are not under probation. Sometimes, the lines can get blurry with probation searches, who can perform them, and when.
The Terms of Probation
Probation sentencing will define the terms of probation and what is to be expected. One of the conditions of supervised probation may be the right of a probation officer to search your home. These officers are considered legal authorities under the law.
Probation visits and searches may be scheduled or unscheduled. A probation officer can search for items that confirm you are not in compliance with the terms of your probation. For example, if your conviction and probation were based on a drug charge, the probation officer may search for signs of drugs or drug paraphernalia.
A probation officer’s visit and search are to ensure that the terms included in the probation are being met. But you may be concerned that a probation officer’s investigation has overstepped the boundaries of what seems reasonable, constituting an illegal search.
Reasons to Suspect a Search is Illegal
Extensive searches of a house, when there is no reason for suspicion that an individual is breaking the terms of probation, may constitute an illegal search. It can be challenging to define reasonable and unreasonable searches, and there may be little that a person can do to stop the search. It is always imperative to speak with a Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyer when new charges stem from a probation officer’s search or if charges of probation violations occur after a search and you suspect your rights have been violated.
A probation officer may stumble across items unrelated to your probation but suggest some other law is being broken. A search for new items unrelated to your probation may constitute an illegal search, and ransacking a home may also comprise illegal search tactics. There is a marked difference between searching and destruction. Document the scene and get help.
What is an example of an illegal search? You may be on probation for DUI charges. If a probation officer searches for evidence of DUI probation violations but discovers possible drug activity, then looking for evidence of drug possession can be a sign of illegal search and seizure by a probation officer.
Probation Officers and the Initiation of a Police Search
As mentioned, probation officers have the right to a search as demonstrated in the terms of a probation order and are not required to have consent or a cause. But reasonable suspicion of a violation must exist when extensive searches are performed. When potential illegal activity is discovered while executing a search based on the terms of probation, local authorities may be contacted to issue a search warrant and conduct an investigation.
How the evidence was discovered and the actions that follow can result in illegal search procedures. However, proving this will require an extensive knowledge of Pennsylvania civil rights violations laws.
Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers Protect Your Rights
The U.S. Constitution protects your right from illegal searches, and the Pennsylvania Constitution (Article 1 §8) has established laws to protect its residents. The terms of probation can permit a probation officer to search a home without cause or consent, but the search must be reasonable and in line with the conditions of the probation terms. Call or contact a West Chester criminal defense attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices today for a free consultation if you think you have been the victim of an illegal search.