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Searching your home: There are limits on the police

You've been charged with a criminal act, but you want to know if the police really had the right to enter your home for the evidence they're using. There are a few times when the police do have a right to enter your home, which you should understand to decide if the police have violated the law.

When you explain your situation to your attorney, he or she can help you understand if your rights have been violated. If so, then the evidence that was collected may not be admissible in court. Here are four times when the police may enter your home or collect evidence on your property.

1. The evidence is in plain view

The first time the police may collect evidence is if the evidence is in plain view. For example, if you open the door and the officer sees the evidence at your feet, he or she does not need a warrant to collect that evidence. This would be the same if it was sitting on top of your vehicle or laying in the grass outside your home.

2. The police have a search warrant

Another time the police can enter your home is if they have obtained a search warrant. A warrant is granted by a judge and is legally enforceable. If an officer has a warrant, he or she has the legal right to search your home without your permission.

3. You give the police permission to enter

Some people know they have nothing to hide and waive their rights by allowing the police to enter by verbal agreement. If you give the police permission to enter your home, you are allowing them to obtain evidence if it's discovered. It's always a good idea to ask for a search warrant prior to the police entering your home. Entering without a warrant is an invasion of your privacy, and just because you have nothing to hide doesn't mean you should allow them inside.

4. The police have probable cause to search the home

The police may also enter your property if they have probable cause with no time to obtain the search warrant. For example, if a person fleeing a crime scene goes into your home through a window, the officer has probable cause to enter. If the police saw you enter the home and have a warrant for your arrest, they also have probable cause to enter.

These are four times the police may access your home. You may wish to speak with your attorney if the police entered without permission or a search warrant.

Source: Nov. 30, -0001

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