The Las Vegas Strip is famous for being a place tourists and Nevada residents alike go to relax, unwind, and let go of inhibitions. Thousands of people visit the Strip every year, walking with drinks in hand (in plastic cups) and looking for a good time. Most of these people are innocent citizens, not looking to cause trouble. Yet police officers stop, search, interrogate, and even arrest many residents and visitors on the Strip seemingly without probable cause. These unreasonable Las Vegas search warrants are extremely common and it is important to know you rights on the strip.
Las Vegas, NV Search Warrants
Like many states, Nevada has search warrant laws that allow police to look for evidence of an alleged crime without needing the person’s consent or having evidence that a crime was committed. The U.S. Constitution’s Fourth Amendment requires police to base all searches on the probable cause that someone committed a crime. Police generally have to obtain a court-issued search warrant to conduct searches, except in certain circumstances:
- Hot pursuit. If a suspected criminal flees the scene, the police have the right to enter another person’s property to chase the subject.
- Exigent circumstances. In an emergency situation, police can conduct searches and seizures in Nevada without a warrant.
- If someone freely and voluntarily submits to a search, the police do not need a warrant.
- Traffic stops. If the police stop someone during a routine traffic violation, they do not need a warrant to search the vehicle if they have probable cause.
On the Las Vegas Strip, people all too often find themselves the victims of unlawful searches. The police may target “suspicious-looking” characters, people they suspect have committed a crime, or even someone simply standing on a street corner. If an officer stopped and searched you on the Las Vegas Strip, you may be the victim of a wrongful search – even if the police officer found a controlled substance or weapon on your person.
Police Officers and Unreasonable Searches
Attorneys who regularly practice criminal defense understand the concepts of “stop and frisks,” or “Terry stops.” These are the stops that appear to have no probable cause, and that lead to the police frisking a person and potentially finding something illegal – even though the person had previously not done anything to warrant a search. The law gives officers a great deal of breadth when it comes to whom they can search in the street, and will often rule in favor of the police.
The best chance a person has of securing their release when facing a conviction that came from an unjust search and seizure is to hire a skilled criminal defense attorney. A criminal conviction can have devastating consequences, such as job loss, extensive fines, and serving time in a Nevada state prison. With so much at stake, you need to hire a Las Vegas lawyer who can build a strong defense.
The police technically cannot stop and search anyone on the Las Vegas Strip without probable cause to do so. Even if an officer believes you fit the description for a suspect in the area, he or she cannot continue a search once your identification proves you are not the criminal for which the police are searching. If this type of search results in the police finding something incriminating on your person, you do not have to accept the conviction without a fight in court.
A criminal defense attorney can gather evidence to help you prove the search warrant in your case was too overbroad or otherwise illegal, and then file a motion for the courts to suppress evidence and exclude it from your case. Depending on your case, an attorney may be able to show the police acted unlawfully during their search and get the case dropped entirely.