Most people know that the police need search warrants to search their properties for criminal evidence. However, you may not know that the need for search warrants doesn't apply to all cases; there are situations in which it's perfectly legal for the police to search your property without a warrant. Here are some of those situations:
The Evidence Was In Clear View
A search warrant only applies to evidence that the police wants to search for or evidence that they suspect may be in your house, but not evidence that they can plainly see. This is called the plain view doctrine, and it means that the police don't need a search warrant to get evidence that is in plain view. For example, if the police stop your car and see the butt of a gun sticking out of the glove compartment, they can seize it without waiting for a warrant.
The Police Arrested You First
The police have the legal authority to search your immediate surrounding for evidence after arresting you for a crime. Note that this is only viable if the police have already made up their mind to arrest you; it doesn't work the other way round. That is, the police can't start looking for evidence so that they can get probable cause to arrest you.
For example, if you have been arrested for drug possession, and you were in your house during the arrest, the police have the right to search the house for evidence of your crime. Another example is if you have been arrested in your car for drunk driving; in this case, the police have the right to search the car (say for alcohol bottles).
Waiting for the Warrant Would Have Endangered the Public
Lastly, the police are not required to look for a warrant if doing so would endanger the public safety. This law applies in emergency situations where the police don't have time to get a warrant. Consider an example in which the police believe you are mentally unhinged and can start shooting the public at any time; in this case, the police don't have to wait for a search warrant because some people might be injured by the time they get the warrant.
Therefore, if the police have retrieved evidence from your property without a warrant, don't assume that the court will toss out the evidence because it was illegally obtained. It might be that the situation falls among one of the above exceptions. Consult a criminal defense law office like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm to help you with the case.
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