Law enforcement has a host of powers at their disposal to assist in investigations and the prevention of crime. That being said, enforcing the law is a big responsibility and police officers must act within the confines of the law themselves.
One of the more common ways that police officers attempt to find evidence is by searching a person’s residence. Can they do this whenever they like or must they get your permission first?
In most cases, law enforcement can only search your property if they have a valid search warrant. To obtain this, they will need to present their case to the judge, who will then either grant or refuse the warrant.
Importantly, the search warrant must state exactly where they are permitted to search. For instance, they cannot search your home based on a warrant that was served on another family member’s house. The warrant must also specify the timeframe that they are permitted to carry out a search. Sometimes, a warrant is only valid for a brief period of time.
The warrant should also refer to the types of items that police officers are looking for. For example, are they there to uncover weapons or illicit substances?
There are occasions when law enforcement might be able to search your home without a warrant. To do this, they must have probable cause that criminal activity has occurred. This is more than a mere hunch, there must be compelling evidence of criminal activity.
An unlawful search doesn’t necessarily mean that your case will be dropped, but it can impact the evidence that is used against you. When facing criminal charges, it is pivotal that you seek some legal guidance.