While many might not know all the intricacies and details of the Fourth Amendment, most are aware that it protects private citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. If a police officer wants to search your home, he or she will need a warrant to do so. Otherwise, any of the evidence obtained during the illegal search will be thrown out and cannot be used against you in a court of law. However, there are some circumstances in which law enforcement might be able to search your home without a warrant. It is important to understand your rights and be aware of any exceptions that exist to this rule.
What is a Search Warrant?
Search warrants are orders that are signed by a judge, authorizing law enforcement officers to search for certain materials or objects at a specific location. For example, if a warrant was ordered, allowing police to search your home, but did not mention your vehicle, the police could not extend their search to the vehicle since it was not listed in the warrant.
When is a Search Warrant Not Required?
If you were to voluntarily give police permission to search your home, the search will be considered valid and legal. Additionally, initial consent is generally considered enough to allow police to search whichever room they choose. Therefore, it is not necessary for you to give them consent to search each room in order for it to qualify as a legal search. If there are multiple tenants in a dwelling, there is some debate about who has the right to consent, though courts often rule that the consent of one tenant is enough for some of the premises to be legally searched.
If evidence or contraband is in plain view for a police officer to see, he or she does not need a warrant to seize it. For example, if an officer lawfully pulls you over and sees contraband, such as marijuana or cocaine on your passenger seat, the officer has a right to examine it, seize it, and arrest you.
Generally, police are given authorization to conduct searches without warrants in situations where obtaining one would endanger public safety or lead to the loss of important evidence. Below are a couple of examples of legal warrantless searches:
- While on a routine patrol, an officer hears shouting and screaming from a residence and rushes in, resulting in the arrest of suspect for spousal abuse.
- During a pursuit, a police officer chases a fleeing felon into his home to make an arrest.
If you are arrested in your home, police officers have the authority to search for weapons or other accomplices for their own safety and to prevent the destruction of evidence.
If a police asks to search your home and does not have a warrant, you have a right to deny him or her access. If there is a warrant, make sure you ask to see it and understand what the officer is permitted to search and what evidence is being searched for. You do not want to risk your rights being trampled on.
Rhode Island Criminal Defense Attorney
Facing criminal charges can be an overwhelming and distressing experience, especially if this is your first run-in with the law. Police officers might attempt to intimidate you and you might not be fully aware of your rights in this situation. If you were the victim of an illegal search, now is the time to seek the experienced legal representation you need and deserve. At The Law Office of Thomas C. Thomasian, Esq., Attorney Thomasian has the necessary skill and knowledge to protect your rights. He has represented numerous accused individuals, achieved countless victories, and is prepared to do the same for you.
Our legal team understands that individuals might require legal assistance at any given time, which is why he is available for his clients 24/7, providing guidance and advice whenever are in need of it. This is undoubtedly a difficult time for you. That is why we seek to do everything we can to ensure you feel confident and have peace of mind in knowing you are in the right hands. You have enough to worry about and having adequate representation should not be one of those concerns.
Contact The Law Office of Thomas. C. Thomasian, Esq. today at (401) 312-4385 to schedule a free consultation. Your future is at stake and you cannot afford to plead guilty.