Can the police conduct a search without a warrant?

Generally the police cannot conduct a search without a warrant. This is at the very heart of your constitutional right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. The police must secure a warrant that is based on an affidavit made under oath with specific facts that provide probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime may be located in the place to be searched.

There are exceptions to the warrant requirement. If the police feel that the evidence may be moved or if they have a reasonable suspicion that a crime is being committed at that instant they may be able to search without a warrant. Typically a search warrant is utilized for a home or a business as the United States Supreme Court gives a citizen’s privacy interest in their home the greatest protections. Recently the courts have also provided further protections for searches of your vehicle as well holding that your vehicle may not be searched without your consent and without a warrant unless there is a reasonable suspicion to believe that it contains evidence of contraband or other illegal activity, or that you may be armed and dangerous.

If you feel that your rights have been violated by the police searching your home, business or vehicle without a warrant and without your consent it is important to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The police overreach and search all the time without a warrant in their efforts to build a case against you or arrest you. Any evidence that they seize without a warrant may be subject to being suppressed and your case dismissed when your case goes to court.

Written by

Ray Lopez has practiced since 1990, with prior experience as a Hillsborough County assistant State attorney and lawyer for the Tampa Police Department. He handles all criminal charges, from traffic violations and misdemeanors to serious felonies and federal drug charges. He practices in all state and federal courts of the Tampa Bay area and throughout Florida, as well as criminal appeals, juvenile court, administrative hearings, and civil forfeiture proceedings.

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