The limitations of police actions

In Maryland and throughout the U.S., the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution allows police to perform “reasonable” searches and seizures. They may be able to search an individual’s car, home or person to find stolen goods, information about a crime or anything else that may aid an ongoing investigation. Prior to performing a search, authorities must show probable cause. Probable cause means that there is reason to believe that a search will uncover stolen goods or evidence of a crime.

In some cases, police can perform a search without probable cause or obtaining a warrant if there is no “legitimate expectation of privacy.” A court will generally consider whether an individual had an expectation of privacy as well as whether society would find that expectation reasonable. If there was no legitimate expectation of privacy concerning the items in question, authorities may claim the items. In that case, no search has occurred.

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