Criminal Law – When Do the Police Need a Search Warrant?
If you watch enough police dramas on television, you know eventually your favorite detectives will storm into somebody’s apartment or place of work to find evidence, and somebody will ask, “Do you have a search warrant?” While some TV shows may take liberties for the sake of ratings, in real life situations will vary. You may be surprised to know there are times when a warrant is not necessary in order for the police to search your premises. Knowing when it is required is important to know.
Search warrants exist in order to protect us from irrational intrusions. The United States Constitution guarantees that all Americans are protected from such situations. If the police suspect you of wrongdoing, they will likely need to obtain legal permission to come into your house, office, or other property to find what they are looking for. However, in order to get this warrant the presiding judge issuing them must be convinced that a search will impact the case. If you are suspected of a crime, you may not have a say as to whether or not the judge should issue the warrant, but if you believe one was unfairly obtained you can confer with a lawyer.
When will police request a warrant to search?
1) If the police ask for your consent to search your property and you refuse, they may decide to obtain a warrant in order to get the job done. If you know you are innocent of wrongdoing and feel you have nothing to hide, by giving consent you waive the detectives’ need to get a warrant. If evidence is found that could incriminate you, however, you are unable to reverse your decision.
2) If the police suspect you have evidence not in plain view, they may request a warrant in order to thorough search your property. However, if a person happens to be out in the open with drugs or an illegal weapon, an officer can apprehend the suspect and confiscate the evidence without a warrant.
One thing to note, too, is that in an emergency situation a warrant is not necessary. If a crime is witnessed and the suspect runs into a building, the police have the right to enter and search the premises. If it is believed that a person within a home or office is in danger, also, police may enter without the paperwork.
If you find yourself in a situation where a warrant is necessary for police to come into your house, know your rights and have the number of a good criminal lawyer on hand to help.