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Can the police search my property without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Jun 7, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Pretty much all criminal cases rely on evidence to resolve. If the arrest is the culmination of weeks or months of investigation, then the police may need a search warrant to access your property. However, there are times when the police may not have to wait for a warrant to conduct a search and seizure.

Of course, the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. However, it is important to understand that the prosecution can always rebut this presumption. Here are three instances when the police can search and seize your property without a warrant.

When there is an emergency

The police may seize evidence that can be easily destroyed, moved or made to varnish before a warrant can be obtained. Also, if a suspect who is being pursued enters a private property during the pursuit, the police may follow them into the property and conduct a search without first obtaining a warrant. This applies even if the property in question does not belong to the suspect.

When the evidence is in plain view

The police do not need a warrant to seize evidence that they can clearly see in plain view during a lawful observation. For instance, if you are stopped for a DUI investigation, then the police spot a kilo of cocaine or other contraband in your back seat, the officer has a lawful duty to seize the drug or contraband without a warrant.

When searching a vehicle

If the police have reason to believe you might be in possession of instruments or proceeds of a crime, then they have a right to stop and search the vehicle without a warrant. The rationale here is that a motor vehicle is highly mobile and the suspect may get away with crucial evidence while the police is waiting for a warrant.

Being charged with a criminal offense is a big deal. If you are facing a criminal charge in New York, it is in your best interest that you understand and explore your legal options so you can effectively defend yourself.