Criminal Law Basics
When can the police enter and search my home?
If you have been arrested and charged with a crime because of something the police found when they entered your house or apartment, how the search was conducted may be the most important issue in your case. An experienced criminal defense attorney can look at the facts in your case and determine if there was an unlawful search or seizure of your property. If so, you may have the right to have that evidence suppressed.
There are only four circumstances when a police officer may enter and search your home.
1. Police may enter your home with a valid search warrant. The warrant must be signed by a judge, and must contain a description of what is being searched for. It cannot be open-ended. If the police are looking for a stolen bike, they cannot search for it in you refrigerator.
2. Police may enter your home with a valid arrest warrant. If there is a valid warrant for your arrest, and the police have reasonable suspicion that you are in the house, they may enter and search for you. The search may include a protective sweep of the area for others if there is a reasonable suspicion that you are with someone else.
3. Police may enter your home if they are in ‘hot pursuit’. Also known as exigent circumstances, if the police are chasing you and you enter your apartment, they can pursue you. There must be a reasonable belief that you will be gone if they stop to obtain a warrant. They may also enter if they believe that you are about to destroy evidence or hurt someone. A warrant is not necessary.
4. Police may enter your home if they have your consent. Once inside, anything in plain view of the officer may be used as probable cause to arrest you.
The experienced criminal defense attorneys can review the circumstances in your case and provide you with the aggressive representation you need to protect your freedom. Contact us today.