Aggressive Criminal

When can police conduct a search without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Criminal Defense |

Police officers often need to gather evidence of a crime before they can pursue a criminal charge against an individual. Yet, there are very specific requirements for when, where and how police officers can conduct the searches that can help them to gather the evidence they’ll need to move forward.

Anyone who’s approached by police officers about searching for evidence should understand basic legal requirements for search warrants. A search warrant is almost always required for a lawful search and/or seizure, but there are a few exceptions. For example, warrantless searches are generally allowable under the following circumstances.

Valid consent is given

A person can provide voluntary consent for police officers to search a specific location. They can’t be forced or coerced into giving that consent, and the search is limited strictly to where the consent is provided.

Search connected to an arrest

Searching a person and things in their possession is lawful when police are arresting the person. This is done so they can remain safe, protect the general public and prevent destruction of evidence.

Vehicle searches

Vehicles are mobile and there isn’t an expectation of privacy in them. Because of this, officers can often lawfully search a vehicle without a warrant.

Evidence is in clear view

If evidence is in clear view from a place where a police officer can lawfully exist, they don’t need a warrant to get the evidence. For example, if someone answers the door and the officer sees drugs on the coffee table, they can seize the drugs.

Exigent circumstances

Police officers don’t need a warrant to search if there’s an emergency. Examples of this are if there’s someone screaming frantically or gunshots ringing out.

Evidence that’s seized without a warrant may not be admissible in court. Defendants should work with someone familiar wth these matters so they can better ensure that their rights – including those related to evidence gathering – are being upheld.