As we covered in the first section of this two-part article, in many cases, the police require either a search warrant, an arrest warrant, or probable cause to search a person’s personal property (their person, home, or vehicle). However, there are many scenarios that allow law enforcement to engage in a search and seizure of private property without probable cause or a search warrant. A search and seizure by a police officer may result in being arrested for a serious crime. If you have been arrested for a federal crime and you are in need of a federal criminal defense attorney in Tampa, please contact us today.
Many citizens make the mistake of allowing law enforcement to perform a search of their person, their vehicle, or their home by giving consent to the officer because they were unaware of their rights. Giving consent or allowing this search to transpire gives the police officer the opportunity to search for incriminating evidence that will be held against you in a court of law. The police utilize certain tactics to try to get you to agree to an unauthorized search. Questions like, “Do you mind if I look around?” or “Can I do a quick search of your car?” or “Can I see what’s in your pocket?” are all ways they are essentially trying to take authority over a situation in which they have no legal right to search you.
If a person is placed under arrest, many of their rights are restricted. For example, you can be searched or patted down by the police officer or they can search any nearby property of yours if they believe you possess anything that could endanger them. In many cases, your car can be impounded and searched as well. Depending on the nature of the crime, other liberties may also be compromised.
In the rare circumstance of an emergency, the police do have authority to pursue the suspect on private property. Similar to the movies, if an armed suspect was eluding police officers by entering a house, the police would be allowed to enter that property without consent as the suspect poses a threat to society.
Although there are some circumstances where an officer can legitimately search a property without a warrant or even probable cause, it’s always best to refuse any request to search your private property. If the officer ignores your refusal and conducts a search without your consent, the evidence acquired may be excluded from your trial.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.