Do I have to let Police Officers search my Home?
No, not without a warrant, however certain circumstances could lead to a warrantless search. The Supreme Court has ruled a home is permitted maximum search protection. The police must obtain a signed search warrant from a judge to enter and search your home. Even if the police have probable cause something illegal may be going on inside. This is your 4th Amendment right.
What are the Exceptions to a warrantless search of your home
Consent: An exception to the search warrant is when someone with access to the home gives consent for the police to enter. Illegal items inside your home that are in plain view even items seen by just opening the door can be seized and taken as evidence which will lead to an arrest and give probable cause for a warrantless search.
Anyone inside your home can give consent to police officers, this includes roommates, visiting guests, minors and children. It is wise to always keep your private items out of view in your home especially in main entrance doorways. Also, it is important to tell everyone in your household including guests you do not give consent to searches and to never allow anyone inside who comes to your door without permission.
Plain view, Law Enforcement can make a warrantless search or seizure if they are lawfully in a position to see and access incriminating evidence.
Minors, guests and children | consent to warrantless search of your home.
Minor children or guests who are children can give consent when answering your door. If illegal items are found and seized it will lead to an arrest and hearing. In the hearing a Judge will determine if the search was valid.
Contesting warrantless searches Permission given by children, minors and guests.
A judge will ask the prosecutor for proof that the evidence found resulted in a warrantless search by determining the validity of the following:
Did the person or minor who gave consent live at the property or share the property in some way.
Did the person or minor who gave consent have admission to the property and the right to invite others in?
Do all the facts of the situation display the police were practical when determining the person or minor who gave consent had access or lived at the property.
Did the person or minor who gave consent display acceptable reasoning without persuasion to willingly consent to the search.
A judge will also determine the person’s age, maturity, and intellect, including the facts of the encounter if he or she was tricked or pressured to give consent.
Other circumstances can arise to determine if the search was admissible if a minor, child or guest gave consent to a search. Although these individuals typically have access to all the rooms of a house, but for the most part they never have permission to access personal property inside someone else’s bedroom. This is clearly common sense even for children. Children learn at a very young age not to go thru their parents, siblings or other people’s personal belongings.
Other examples of someone else’s personal property include locked bedrooms, computers with passwords, locked safes and storage sheds etc. A minor, child or guest typically has the right to consent to searches of a shared space such as living room and common living areas such as a kitchen, or a shared bathroom.
However, the maturity of children may be scrutinized by a judge because the child may be too young to understand what is taking place. Even teens and most adults do not fully understand their rights and it is always best practice to educate your children and visiting guests about these issues.
Educate Friends | Family about home searches
If you feel your constitutional rights were violated and you were accused of a crime legal Help is only a phone call away, one of our Affordable Criminal Defense Attorneys will help determine the best course of action. Consultations are free.