If you have been arrested for a crime following a search by police, you may assume that there's little you can do about the charges, especially if the charges are related to something that was physically found during the search. What many people don't realize, however, is that you may still have a sound legal defense even if there was incriminating evidence found during a search. Here are a few things that you should know.
A Search Must Be Conducted Legally
Any evidence discovered during a search can only be admitted against you if the search that uncovered it was conducted legally. The police are required by law, per the terms of the Fourth Amendment, to get legal authorization in the form of a warrant before conducting most searches.
To obtain a warrant, there must be sufficient evidence, considered probable cause, for the search. A judge will review the request and determine if there is enough cause for the search to be conducted based on the information presented by the police. If there isn't enough evidence, a warrant may not be issued.
What Can Be Searched Without A Warrant?
There are certain situations where a search can be conducted without a warrant. For example, if you are being questioned by police, they have the legal right to conduct a pat-down search of your person. Anything uncovered during that pat-down will be considered legally admissible.
In addition, if there is evidence in plain view of the officer, such as something visible through your car window or something sitting beside you on your front step, that can also be considered admissible under the plain view clause.
In addition, a vehicle that is on a public roadway may not require a warrant for a search in some states. Finally, if you permit an officer into your home and give consent, there is no warrant needed for them to search your property.
What If An Officer Asks Your Permission?
If an officer asks for your consent to search your vehicle or your home, you may think that you're legally obligated to permit it. The truth is that you have the legal right to refuse consent if the officer does not have a warrant. If they have enough evidence to obtain a warrant, they may come back with one to conduct the search, but you're not obligated to allow any search under your own consent without a warrant being issued first.
Talk with a criminal defense attorney right away if you were arrested on criminal charges as a result of something discovered in a search. They may be able to have the evidence thrown out if the search was conducted outside of the legal parameters.