Many people mistakenly believe that the only way law enforcement can enter and search their home is with a search warrant. Unfortunately, that is not the case. There are a number of situations in which law enforcement can enter and search your home or vehicle without your consent or a warrant. If you believe that law enforcement violated your right against unreasonable search and seizure, you should speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away. An attorney can review the details of the search and your arrest to determine if police violated your civil rights during the process.
What are my Fourth Amendment rights?
The Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means that law enforcement are not allowed to arbitrarily burst into your home. Police should not randomly stop you on the street, either. Law enforcement needs to have reasonable suspicion that a crime has been or is being committed. In some cases, that belief allows officers to enter your home without a warrant and without your permission.
For example, if law enforcement suspects your involvement in the sale of illegal drugs, they may knock on your door to gain entry. If they hear the sounds of what they think may be you attempting to destroy evidence, such as a paper shredder or a toilet flushing, they can legally break down the door and enter your home. If they hear something they believe to be another person in distress, they can also enter your home.
Other circumstances where law enforcement can search without a warrant
Anything that is clearly visible in your vehicle, through your window or from the front door if you open it is subject to search by law enforcement. Effectively, anything in plain view that creates reasonable suspicion of a crime is enough to warrant a search. Additionally, if you are arrested in your home, law enforcement can search for weapons without your consent or a warrant. If you live with a roommate, he or she can give law enforcement consent to search common areas and shared rooms.
If you believe law enforcement violated your rights, you need an attorney
If you believe that law enforcement violated your Constitutional rights during their search of your property or your arrest, you need the help of an experienced criminal defense attorney. An attorney understands how to invalidate illegally obtained evidence and may even be able to request that your charges are completely dropped. Don’t gamble with your future by confessing or taking a plea deal.