If you have watched pretty much any police drama on television, then you
have likely heard the term “search warrant” used. You also
probably know that this is something the police must obtain in order to
search your home, thanks to the Fourth Amendment which protects all American
citizens from “unreasonable searches and seizures.”
Generally, these documents are issued by a judge when they deem the police
have “probable cause” to believe that they will find criminal
activity or evidence against someone by searching someone’s home,
car, or possessions on their person. These warrants are usually specific,
and must state the location and time the police are allowed to search,
as well as what they are searching for. Anything found outside of these
provisions is not eligible to be seized and used as evidence.
However, many people don’t know that the police don’t
always need to have a warrant in order to search your home. There are a few exceptions
to this rule, and knowing them can help you maintain your privacy should
law enforcement ever wish to search your home. Let’s take a look
at when police may search without a warrant.
Consent: The police do not need a warrant to search your property if you
agree to allow them to do so. However, you cannot be tricked or coerced
into allowing them to search. If you can prove that you were coerced into
allowing them to search without a warrant, the evidence can still be suppressed.
Plain View: If you are accused of robbing a bank and you leave the gun
you used during the crime on the passenger seat of your getaway car, the
police don’t necessarily need a search warrant to confiscate and
submit the gun as evidence. This is because you left the evidence in a
place where you could not reasonably expect privacy; it was left in plain view.
Incident to Arrest: Do you have a warrant out for your arrest? Then police
may search your home and obtain evidence if they are arresting you in
your home. They often conduct searches in these instances to find weapons
or other devices that could compromise their safety, but could also search
if they believe you may attempt to destroy evidence against you.
Special Cases: If the police believe that obtaining a valid search warrant
could lead to a loss of evidence or potential danger to public safety,
then they do not necessarily need a warrant to search. For example, police
may enter someone’s home and arrest them for DUI without a warrant
because by the time they actually do obtain one, the evidence (your BAC
level) will be gone.
Have you been arrested and believe the police may have illegally obtained
evidence against you, call a Pittsburgh criminal defense attorney as soon
as possible. At the
Law Office of Melvin L. Vatz, we have nearly 40 years of legal experience we can put to work defending
you. Attorney Vatz is an AV® Preeminent™ rated lawyer, one of
the highest honors awarded by Martindale-Hubbell®, and can put his
high-quality counsel on your side through every step of your case. Attorney
Vatz reviews all of the facts in your case, and may be able to help protect
you from the harsh penalties you are facing through a wide variety of
Facing criminal charges? Call the Law Office of Melvin L. Vatz today at
412.453.3341 to schedule your
free initial consultation.