If you are a fan of Law and Order, you would know that in many of the story lines, obtaining a warrant for search and seizure is a sticky situation and popular drama. Many people may question how it works in real life. We have all heard stories of police that did not have a warrant , but still did a search and seizure. Here is what you need to know in order to protect yourself and have a proper understanding of your rights.
If you are familiar with the U.S. Constitution, then you would know that the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."
In Order for a police officer to search your home or property, they must have written permission from court. This gives them the legal right to search for evidence while investigating a criminal case. If a police officer were to obtain evidence through an illegal search, this makes the evidence not admissible in court. There are many people who are unaware of this rule or of their Fourth Amendment rights. This can put these individuals in a situation where they are not properly protecting themselves against the law. There are times that the police can search an individual legally without a warrant. This is if there is a probable cause or if the individual gives consent.
A warrant is a legal order signed by a judge allowing the police to search a specific location or seize specific materials from that location at a specific time. it may specify a certain time frame in which they can search the area. There must be probable cause and a reason to believe that a crime had taken place in this location. The police will need to obtain their own evidence. When that warrant is obtained, then the police will only be able to search that area at the specified time.
There are 4 exemptions in which a warrant is not required. If an individual freely gives consent for the police to search their property, and this individual was not tricked, then police can search without the need of a warrant. Police do not need to tell these individuals that they can refuse search. Individuals that did not know this have been arrested or even sent to jail because of this. If 2 or more people live in a location then one tenant cannot consent to search for areas in which is owned by another tenant. They can consent to the search of a common area though.
The Plain View Doctrine allows police officers to legally search and seize evidence if it is clearly visible. If they see an illegal act taking place outside of your home, they can search and seize.
If you are arrested, then the police have a right to search you for any potential weapons, evidence, or accomplices of the crime. This is a way for the cop to protect him or herself. Any evidence found against you can be used in court.
The last exemption to needing a warrant to legally search is if the police feel that the time it would take to get a warrant would jeopardize public safety or lead to the loss of evidence, they can perform a search without a warrant.
This is why it is so important to know your rights. If police were to show up on your doorstep and wanted to take a look around, you can refuse them the right to do so. In many cases it might be beneficial and in your best interest to have the police do their job. If your home or vehicle has already been searched, and you are not sure if it was done legally, then you are going to want to call a lawyer with criminal law expertise. Contact Palacios Law Group today!
Source: Legal Zoom