The police in Alabama have broad powers to search you and your property for contraband. But there are limits, starting with the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Unfortunately, what happens in the real world does not always go the way the law says it should.

If you are ever subject to a police search that you suspect has crossed the line, here is what you should do:

Do not resist. Emotions may be running high, but try to remain calm. Do not try to physically stop the police from the search.

Consider filming the search. Under the First Amendment, you have the right to film the police on your cellphone while they are in the course of their “public duties,” including when they are searching your vehicle on the street. However, the police may try to intimidate you out of doing this.

Gather information. As soon as possible, write down what happened to you with as much detail as you remember. Include the date and time of the search, where it took place and the officers’ names, if possible.

Consult with your defense attorney. Your lawyer will listen closely to you and advise you if the search might have been illegal.

Whether the police search followed the law or not can make a huge difference in your case. With some exceptions, evidence seized by officers during an illegal search is considered “fruit of the poisonous tree” by the courts. The judge may throw out the evidence and dramatically improve the chances your charges will be dismissed, or that you will be found not guilty.

A conversation with an experienced Mobile criminal law attorney will help you understand more about illegal searches and seizures.