Before the police can search private property, including residences backpacks, they need probable cause, plus either a search warrant, consent, a clear view of the evidence, or circumstances in which delaying the search for the time necessary to obtain the warrant would be a threat to public safety or the judicial process.
The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects against unjust search and seizure of private property. This means that, in situations where there is a reasonable assumption of privacy, police do not have the right to search or confiscate your property. Examples of property that police cannot search without a warrant include your house, backpack or purse, computer, or mobile device. If the police want to search a person’s property, they must first get written permission from the court through a search warrant. Even in the instances where police have the right to search and seize property without a warrant, they still need probable cause, which means that they need a verifiable indication that the search will yield evidence of a crime. The Atlanta criminal lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam can help you ensure that the prosecution does not use illegally obtained evidence against you in court.
What is a Search Warrant, and How Do the Police Get Them?
A search warrant is a court order that gives police the right to search private property and seize items that they can use as evidence in a criminal case. To obtain a search warrant, an officer must submit a written statement to the court, establishing probable cause to search the property. In other words, the police must list the evidence that an investigation has already found to convince them that they will find even more evidence by searching your property. The statement must be specific about the area or items that police want to search and the evidence they expect to find there.
Times When Police Can Search Your Property Without a Warrant
In some circumstances, police can search your property without a warrant. If you verbally consent to the search, then a warrant is not necessary. Likewise, if illegal items or activities are plainly visible, this is probable cause, and police can conduct the search without a warrant. Police often use this argument when searching vehicles at traffic stops, sometimes unfairly; they can say that a lighter in the front console is evidence of drugs. Likewise, if police determine that there is an immediate danger of violent crime or destruction of evidence, they can also search without a warrant; police also apply this justification subjectively. In other words, there is more room for debate about the probable cause than you would first think, so it is always worth discussing matters in detail with your lawyer.
Atlanta Criminal Defense Lawyer
A criminal defense lawyer can help you if police use a flimsy excuse to search your property without a warrant. Contact the defense lawyers at Ghanayem & Rayasam in Atlanta, Georgia, about criminal charges that stem from warrantless searches.