Warrantless Searches


A common public misconception is that law enforcement officersalways need a warrant to conduct a search and collect admissible evidence. The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects your rights against unreasonable searches and seizures. In essence, the Fourth Amendment states the people have the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures, and that no warrants shall be issued, but with probable cause, supported by an oath or affirmation, and stating with specificity the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.

There are several general exceptions to the requirement for a warrant though. In this discussion, I will provide a general overview, but I will discuss each of the exceptions in depth, in the future. The basic exceptions to the warrant requirement include the following:

  • As a search incident to arrest
  • Consent
  • Automobile search
  • Inventory search
  • Terry "Stop and Frisk"
  • Exigent Circumstances
  • Plain View
  • Special needs

Each of the above general exceptions to the warrant requirement, have to be supported based on the circumstances. For instance, Larry Law Enforcement is in hot pursuit of Billy Bad Guy, a known felon. Billy Bad Guy runs into his house, and Larry Law Enforcement runs in after him. Billy Bad Guy has stacks of cocaine and drug paraphernalia lying on the coffee table. During hot pursuit, evidence of a crime discovered while searching for the suspect is admissible. This is an elementary example of the plain view exception. If you have questions surrounding your recent arrest in Gwinnett, Barrow, Walton, DeKalb, or the surrounding area, call the Law Office of Robert L. Booker today.

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