Must the police have a warrant to search my property?

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Must the police have a warrant to search my property?

When the police have reasonable suspicion that you have committed a crime, they will look for evidence that they can use against you. Depending on the circumstances of your case, this search for evidence might bring them to your home or place of work. The 4th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from police overreach by prohibiting baseless searches and seizures. In other words, the police must have reasonable suspicion to search and seize your property. And, they must obtain a valid search warrant to enter and search your property. But are there exceptions to this rule? Yes, there are instances when the police can search and seize your property without first obtaining a warrant. Here are three such instances:

When the police are in hot pursuit of a suspect

When a suspect who is on the run enters your property, the police will not have to stop the pursuit to obtain a warrant. Rather, they will follow the suspect into your property and apprehend them. Likewise, if the police believe that a suspect has contraband or something illegal in their vehicle, they will search and seize that item without first obtaining a warrant. These are known as emergency circumstances.

When there is a plain view

When the police are legally on your property and they witness evidence of a crime in plain view, they do not need to obtain a warrant to seize the evidence in question. For instance, if you are stopped for a DUI investigation and the police notice drugs in your car’s backseat, they will retrieve it. However, the police must be legally on your property for this to happen.

Protecting your rights

The law protects you from unreasonable search and seizure. Learning more about the New Jersey criminal law process can help you protest unlawful search and seizure if you are charged with a crime.

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