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Can I Get Searched Without a Warrant?

Circumstances Permitting Warrantless Searches & Seizures

You may believe that all police searches require a search warrant, which is a legal document authorizing an officer to search your person or property and seize any information that may be used as evidence against you.

While many situations do require a warrant, there are several scenarios in which a police officer can legally search your person or property without one. Even though certain instances are lawful, many people don’t know what constitutes an illegal warrantless search and seizure, meaning it’s essential to learn about this matter to protect yourself from suffering a violation of your Fourth Amendment rights.

You’d be surprised to learn how many innocent people waste opportunities to stand their ground and assert their rights when dealing with a demanding officer. Law enforcement can take advantage of people by conducting warrantless searches because they’re aware that many civilians don’t understand the ins and outs of the Fourth Amendment. Thus, our Santa Rosa criminal defense attorney urges you to learn about which situations allow warrantless searches and seizures.

5 Types of Legal Warrantless Searches & Seizures

The following incidents account for some of the various situations in which an officer may conduct a warrantless search and seizure.

  1. Exigent Circumstances: If there is probable cause to search your person and/or property and officers reasonably believe that contraband or other evidence may be destroyed or removed before they can get a search warrant, a warrantless search and seizure are allowed.
  2. Search Incident to Arrest: If probable cause exists, an officer may arrest you and conduct a warrantless search of you and/or the area within your immediate control. For example, if you’re arrested for DUI, an officer may search your vehicle because it’s within your reach.
  3. Vehicular Searches: Once law enforcement officers have probable cause to believe there is contraband in your vehicle, they may remove it from the scene and bring it to the stationhouse for a warrantless search.
  4. Consent Searches: Fourth Amendment rights, like other constitutional rights, may be waived. Thus, you can consent to a warrantless search and seizure, even when officers haven’t honored your 4th Amendment rights. If you don’t speak English or you have a “below normal” mental incapacity, consent issues may arise. This is because an officer can take advantage of your inability to consent to a warrantless search and seizure knowingly and consciously.
  5. Plain View: Objects within the ''plain view'' of an officer who is legally in the position to have that view can be searched and possibly seized without a warrant.

There are other instances in which an officer can conduct a warrantless search and seizure. If you believe an officer violated your rights, you must contact us immediately, as they have a duty to respect your Constitutional rights. During your free consultation, we can discuss your legal options and plan of action. There may be a possibility that we can get your charges reduced or dropped simply because of an officer’s misconduct. Thus, waste no time and call (707) 418-5352 right away.