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How can I find information about search-and-seizure laws by state?

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Quick Answer

Case law governing searches and seizures in different states is summarized on FindLaw.com. State constitutions that provide for privacy protections beyond those guaranteed by federal law are summarized by the National Conference of State Legislatures on its website.

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The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution guarantees that "persons, houses, papers, and effects" are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures, according to Cornell University Law School Legal Information Institute. The Amendment is incorporated by the states, requiring that all states guarantee at least the protections afforded in the Constitution, though states may afford people additional protections beyond those that are federally guaranteed, explains FindLaw. Federally, unlawful searches and seizures are those conducted without warrants or probable cause, notes Cornell University Law School.

In many states, including South Carolina, Louisiana and Hawaii, the Constitution includes protection from invasion of privacy in addition to protection from searches of person and property, says the National Conference of State Legislatures. Florida's constitution states that private communications are protected from interception. Illinois adds that residents are also protected from eavesdropping devices. In Washington state, case law provides that court clerks cannot order warrants issued without the consent of a judge unless a law or court rule allows it, reports FindLaw. In New Mexico's state constitution, arrests without warrants are allowed only if the state can demonstrate exigent circumstances.

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