Search and Seizure Definition

In criminal law, a phrase that describes law enforcement's gathering of evidence of a crime. Under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments to the U.S. Constitution, any search of a person or their premises (including a vehicle), and any seizure of evidence, must be reasonable. Normally, law enforcement must obtain a search warrant from a judge, specifying with particularity where and whom they may search, and what they may seize. In some emergency and other urgent circumstances, police can dispense with the warrant requirement.