Freedom from Forceful Entry
We like to think we have a right to privacy in our own home. Indeed, in the majority of cases, police need a California search warrant to enter your home. A search warrant is a court order issued by a judge. Police need a court order to enter and search your home because you have a constitutional right to privacy. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects that right by granting us freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. That said, there are certain situations where the police can execute a forceful entry lawfully and without a warrant. Those circumstances are limited, so you should learn about how and when you can protect the privacy of your own home.
When Do Police Need a California Search Warrant
The Fourth Amendment supports the idea that “every man's home is his castle.” Far from being an archaic reference to feudal times, this mantra helps preserve the one place we can be private: our home. What's more, many states give us the right to defend our homes with deadly force, if necessary. When it comes to law enforcement, however, our right to privacy in our own homes has limitations. The police can execute a forceful entry into your home without a California search warrant under, and only under, the following circumstances:
You or someone else with authority gives consent to the entry and search.
If you or an authoritative member of your household provides consent, police can enter your home without a search warrant. They can search for anything if you give them permission. This is why it's so important to learn about your rights so you don't unknowingly waive them. Once you say “OK officer”, the police can go through anything they can get their hands on.
During an emergency situation.
If someone's life is at stake or the property stands to suffer serious damage, police can enter and search your home. Good examples of emergency situations where police would be justified to enter your home are if your home was on fire or if police heard screams coming from inside. Police must believe there is an imminent threat to life or your property. They must primarily intend to provide protection. For example, they cannot claim someone's life was in danger just to break in and collect evidence.
To aid in a lawful arrest or to protect evidence that would otherwise be destroyed.
If the police come to your home to arrest you (with an arrest warrant), they may take a look around your house to ensure no evidence is left behind or could be destroyed. Or, if the police received a tip that you were holding someone in your home against their will, they could come and search your home for that person. These situations are referred to as exigent circumstances, which allow police to enter your home without a valid California search warrant to carry out their duties.
Police can enter and search your home without a search warrant in a number of situations. To limit the chances police have to search your home, never consent to a search and tell everyone in your household to do the same. Also, keep in mind that police don't need a California search warrant or any of the above reasons to simply observe what is in plain sight. The same goes for what is in your car. Viewing what is in plain sight is not considered a search. Keep important items locked up and away from prying eyes.
Consult with an experienced Visalia criminal defense attorney if police searched your home. It's important to know that law enforcement can overstep boundaries. It's up to you to defend your rights. An attorney can evaluate your case and advise you on whether police entered and searched your home lawfully. An attorney can also help you take steps to suppress evidence that may have resulted from an illegal entry and search.
If you are in the Tulare, Fresno or Kings County area and have questions about police searches, call experienced criminal defense attorney Christopher Martens today for expert counsel. At The Law Offices of Christopher Martens, we can help you defend your rights and move on with your life. Attorney Martens has over ten years of criminal defense experience and will fight hard for your rights. Contact our Visalia or Hanford, CA offices at 559-967-7386 or email us at [email protected] to discuss a possible plan of action for your case.