You have probably already heard that, before the police are able to search your home, they will need a warrant to do so. If there is no warrant, you may know that the evidence they find cannot be used against you in court. But you may have many other questions if you have fallen victim to a search and seizure and wonder if your rights have been breached. Let us help.
What is a search warrant? A search warrant is a court order that allows the police to search a location for specific objects that could be illegal, such as illegal drugs or weapons. However, the judge can only grant this warrant if there is “probable cause” to obtain the warrant because evidence showed it.
What if I give consent? If you gave consent to the search, then the police are legally allowed to take a look at your property without a warrant. It has gone on record. However, if they tricked you into giving consent, then it can be held against them in court. You have a right to refuse the search, but the police also have the right to attempt to gain the warrant anyway.
Are there any other circumstances in which a warrant is not needed? Yes, and those include the following:
Plain View: Perhaps, when you opened the door, the police saw a pipe for drugs sitting right inside the door. If the contraband or other illegal property was in plain sight, they can seize the property as evidence and it is totally legal to do so.
Search Incident to Arrest: If you are being arrested inside your home for a crime, the police may search the scene to protect their safety, such as looking for weapons if they heard you might have some on you.
Exigent Circumstances: This applies to emergency situations where it may be too late once the warrant is granted. The police must be reasonable when determining when they can enter a property. For instance, they may have seen that you had a weapon on you and went inside your home to escape; in this case, they could follow you in and search you.
Do these rules apply to my garbage? It depends. As long as the trash is outside your home and is considered to be “abandoned,” then it can be searched. Your yard has protections; however, if you threw something away further down the street, this does not count and you could be arrested.
There are many laws that protect you from unlawful search and seizure. We can help you if you believe you have been arrested unreasonably after the police failed to get a warrant into your home. If these circumstances apply to you and you need our help, give us a call.