Some searches may be considered acceptable even in the absence of a warrant, despite the fact that the 4th Amendment does provide protection against unjustified searches and seizures. For example, police can search anyone who have been detained for firearms without a warrant, and they can search any location with your permission.
Keep reading to learn more about these two examples and then contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 if you have had your property searched or have been charged with a crime.
Exception for protective pat-down searches
This warrant exemption, commonly known as the protective frisk search exception, is intended to safeguard an arresting officer. An officer has the right to pat down someone’s outer clothes if they are being approached to conduct a legitimate arrest and they suspect they may be carrying a weapon. Without a warrant, a police officer may seize an item that they fear may be a weapon or otherwise hazardous.
This search exception raises a lot of murky territory. Sometimes it is fairly clear that a suspect is carrying a weapon, in which case the police officer has every right to search the person and seize the weapon. Sometimes it is more subtle. For instance, there is apparent permission for an officer to conduct a search without a warrant if they can see the shape of a pistol below a piece of clothing.
However, the officer might not be justified in removing the object if they are performing a pat-down and feel a hard object in a pocket but are unable to identify it or explain why it would pose a threat to their safety. If they do take the item and it turns out to be evidence of a crime, the evidence could not be allowed to be used in court since a formal warrant was not used to collect it.
As the term suggests, whatever a police officer finds while conducting an unwarranted search of your person, your car, or your property with your consent might be used as evidence against you in a criminal proceeding.
It’s crucial to keep in mind that just because you provide permission for one kind of search, the police do not automatically have the authority to search everything. For instance, if you agree to a check of your person to reassure police that you are not carrying a weapon, this does not give them permission to saunter through your house and conduct additional searches.
If evidence purportedly collected under either of these search exceptions is going to be used against you in court, it is crucial to hire a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney to help you through these challenges. Both of these exceptions are extremely complicated and fact intensive. We invite you to contact Chambers Law Firm at 714-760-4088 now to request a free legal consultation.