This is an important question to ask and know the answer to. If you have been the subject of a search and seizure, it can be crucial to speak with a lawyer who can make sure your rights are protected.
An experienced attorney can make sure any type of search is done in accordance with the law. Most searches are conducted after police have obtained a warrant by showing a judge there is sufficient probable cause to conduct a search.
As to most rules, there are always exceptions. In the case of conducting searches, there are three common exceptions.
- Plain view doctrine: If police, in the course of legal police business see something of interest in plain view. For example, an officer who is legally in your home and comes across an item that would suggest illegal activity would fall into this category.
- Police may conduct a search without a warrant if you give them consent to do so.
- An officer may conduct a search incident to arrest without a warrant, which is where an officer may seize items immediately surrounding someone during an arrest in fear that the items or evidence may be destroyed. This may only be done within the room a suspect is arrested in and not in the surrounding areas.
Finally, in emergency situations, police may search without a warrant, for example, if a fleeing suspect is followed into his home, an officer can search for evidence he believes will be destroyed.
If you believe your house or property was searched without a valid warrant and have concerns about how it was handled, you may want to speak with a lawyer who can fight on your behalf.