When Law Enforcement Performs A Search

Law Blog

Searches, in the legal sense, allow law enforcement officers to obtain evidence connected to a crime. Our justice system treats those accused of crimes as innocent, so using searches to seek evidence is so customary that few people give it much thought. Until you or a loved one has been subject to a search, you might just assume that law enforcement must present a search warrant before they carry out a search, but that is not always the case. Read on to learn more about searches and when they may be carried out without a warrant.

Warrants and Search

In some cases, law enforcement goes through the proper channels and are armed with a search warrant when they search private property like vehicles and homes. Law enforcement officials are responsible for giving good reasons to a judge for a warrant to be issued. Search warrants can be obtained in a matter of minutes, if necessary, by speaking to a judge over the phone and then following the request up with written pleadings. Often, search warrants allow for the gathering of evidence, to search for the alleged perpetrator of a crime, or to enter private property in order to a ascertain the safety of persons who might be in danger.

Permission to Search

If you give law enforcement permission to perform a search, no warrant is needed. Additionally, law enforcement does not have to show that the search was requested for a good reason or any reason. The main point about giving law enforcement permission to perform a search is that if they had to ask you, they very likely don't have grounds.

Understanding Grounds

Grounds are a similar concept to reasons. If law enforcement has a good reason to perform a search of your property, they can do so without you giving them permission. If you refuse to give them permission and they have reason to believe that they will find a violation of the law, they will proceed with the search. No matter what you are told, giving them permission to search won't lessen the impact of what they might find when they perform the search. While performing a search without permission won't nullify any evidence found, the lack of supporting grounds might very well do so. Illegal, warrantless searches may be challenged in court with any evidence gathered during such searches "thrown out" and rendered useless.

Grounds to Search

On the other hand, law enforcement personnel are well-trained to recognize signs of possible law-breaking and are usually readily able to name grounds pursuant to a search. If you are a driver who has been pulled over, here are some common examples of grounds to perform a search (probable cause).

  • Disobeying traffic laws, such as weaving in and out of the lanes might be probable cause for sobriety testing.
  • Nervous behavior, avoiding eye contact with the officer, sweating, and jumpiness might be probable cause for being under the influence of drugs.
  • Lots of movement in the car might be probable cause for hiding weapons or other illegal items.
  • The odor of marijuana might prompt a search for drugs.

If you have reason to believe that an illegal search was carried out on your property and were arrested as a result, contact a law office like The Fitzpatrick Law Firm for help.


14 January 2019

Choosing To Fight

Although I am far from perfect, I have focused on abiding by the local laws for the vast majority of my life. Unfortunately, about five years ago, I realized that I was being accused of a crime that I didn't commit. I thought about letting the trial run its course, but then I realized that fighting would be important to ensure my future. I teamed up with a great lawyer, and things became much easier overnight. My legal counsel told me what to do and what to avoid, and he was able to prove the facts in a court of law. This blog is all about choosing to fight charges.