Can the Police Search My Home Without a Warrant?
It’s rarely a good sign when the police come knocking at your door. But when the police come to your house looking for evidence of a crime, this can be an extremely dangerous situation, and how you respond can be critical to defending yourself or a family member from criminal charges down the line. Under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, everyone in the U.S. has a right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures, whether you are an American citizen or not. This means that the police usually cannot search your home without presenting a valid warrant, which must be signed off by a judge and supported by evidence indicating that there is probable cause that the home contains evidence of a crime. But there are times when the police can nevertheless search your home and obtain evidence which can be used against you in court, even without a warrant.
When Someone Provides Consent
The most common way that police are able to constitutionally enter a person’s home to collect evidence without a warrant is when someone in the home provides consent. This consent must be voluntarily given and not in response to duress (meaning the police cannot threaten the person as a way of obtaining consent), but you should never provide consent to the police to enter your home without the advice of a lawyer.
The police do not have to tell you that they are looking for evidence of a crime, and they may not even be looking for evidence of a crime, but if they find evidence while inside it can be used against you. Note that anyone who appears to have authority to provide consent to the police entering the home can do so, even if the evidence pertains to a different resident of the home. Thus, if a man provides consent to the police to enter the home while his wife is away and the police find evidence tying the wife to a murder, that evidence will be admissible.
When the Police are in Hot Pursuit
Another common occurrence is where a person is attempting to evade the police and runs into his or her home with the police in pursuit. In such cases, the police are sometimes able to follow the person into his or her home legally under the “hot pursuit” doctrine. Once inside, if the police see evidence of a crime such as drug paraphernalia, they may be able to seize the evidence and have it be admissible under the doctrine of “plain view.”
When There Is an Emergency Situation
Finally, the police are able to enter a home if they believe it is necessary to respond to an emergency situation such as a person being in danger. While inside, the police may see evidence of a crime and lawfully seize it, if, once again, it was in plain view of the police.
If you are currently dealing with attempts by law enforcement to enter your home with or without a warrant, or if your home has been subject to a search during which evidence was seized, you should contact an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible to determine your risks and best strategies to protect your interests.
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The experienced criminal defense attorneys at The Law Offices of Omar Gastelum and Associates, PLC, are here to represent your rights and to present your best defenses in order to work towards a dropped investigation, reduced charges, a favorable plea agreement or a not guilty verdict. When you hire us as your defense attorney, we have a duty to keep information confidential and to zealously represent your interests to defend your freedom. Contact our office today to schedule a consultation to discuss any potential investigations or charges.