Do I Have to Consent to a Warrantless Search?Published: May 24, 2017 by Erika Valcarcel
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution ensures that citizens are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Unfortunately, there are many misconceptions about the definition of an unreasonable search. Police are able to conduct warrantless searches in many circumstances. However, if you believe that you have been subjected to an illegal search, there is a legal action you can take. For example, it may be possible to suppress evidence that was found during the search.
Attorney Erika Valcarcel has spent years defending peoples’ rights in court. If you have been mistreated, she will fight to get your charges dismissed. Call (941) 363-7900 now for a free consultation.
Permission and Exigent Circumstances
The only time police need permission to conduct a warrantless search is when they have no reason to believe that a crime has been committed. Imagine, for example, that you are sitting at home and enjoying a quiet evening. Suddenly, you hear a knock at the door. When you answer it, you find a police officer who tells you that there were noise complaints made by neighbors. In this case, if the police officer asks to search the premises, you have every right to say no. If you were to consent to a search, you have the right to limit the search to certain areas.
However, if a neighbor called police with complaints of gun shots, or if they heard screaming coming from your basement, police would have the authority to enter your house without a warrant and without your permission. This is because police simply need probable cause, or reason to believe, that a crime is being committed to justify a search and seizure. When police believe that their lives or the lives of others are at risk, they are expected to do whatever is necessary to defend public safety.
Police are also allowed to seize your property when you have no expectation to privacy, or when something is sitting in plain view. If for example, you left an automatic rifle in your driveway, police would be legally allowed to take it from your possession. With this exception, police are only allowed to seize property that is obviously contraband. For example, an officer cannot take your backpack and search through it simply because they see it sitting on a park bench.
There are very strict limitations for how officers can conduct searches, even when they have a warrant. If a certain individual is specified on the warrant, the police must limit their search to that individual. If the police had planned on only searching a home, then they must limit their search to that area. They cannot extend their search to sheds, areas of vacant property, or vehicles without the owner’s permission. However, if they find something in the home that leads them to believe that evidence of a crime could be found elsewhere, they may extend their search on the grounds of probable cause.
There are also rules related to “search and frisk” style searches. Police may not stop and frisk you based on little to no evidence, such as a snide remark or a suspicious looking walk. They may only search your person if they have reason to believe that you have committed a crime. If for example, an officer can see a gun through your jacket pocket, they may immediately conduct a search.
Call Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. Today
If you have been subjected to an illegal search, you may be able to invoke the exclusionary rule. This restriction states that evidence that was obtained illegally may not be used in court. With the help of the Sarasota criminal defense lawyer at Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A., it may be possible to prove that you were subjected to an illegal search so that your charges can be reduced or dismissed.
If you have questions about your case, or if you are ready to bolster your defense, call (941) 363-7900 today.