Posted on 11/16/20

Typically, law enforcement officers cannot search your property without a valid warrant or without your consent. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule. In these rare exceptions, evidence obtained in warrantless searches can still be used by prosecutors in Texas courts. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution specifically protects people from warrantless searches. In other words, officers cannot search a person’s private spaces unless they have a warrant based on probable cause that the defendant committed a crime.

What is the Purpose of a Search Warrant?

The requirement for a search warrant prevents law enforcement officers from searching your private spaces without probable cause that a crime has been committed. The warrant requirement forces law enforcement officers to provide facts as to why they have probable cause to search the area. These requirements prevent law enforcement officers from arbitrarily bursting into your home and searching it.

What are the Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement?

There are some exceptions to law enforcement requiring warrants. Both Texas and federal law recognize some situations in which a police officer can engage in a search and seize evidence from your home without a search warrant. The following are the main situations in which police officers can search your home without a warrant:

  • You consent to the search by telling law enforcement they can enter your house and search your home.

  • The evidence is in plain view: If the law enforcement officer has a right to be on your personal property and they see evidence of a crime or contraband that is clearly visible, they can seize the item and use it as evidence. 

  • A search incident to an arrest: if police officers are arresting you in your home, they are allowed to search for weapons to protect their own safety. This type of search is referred to as a “protective sweep.” They may otherwise search your home to prevent you or someone else from destroying evidence related to the search.

  • Exigent circumstances: Police officers can search your property in exigent circumstances. When taking the time to get a valid search warrant may compromise public safety or cause a loss of evidence, officers can conduct a warrantless search.

Unreasonable Search and Seizures 

What happens when a police officer violates these rules and engages in an unreasonable search and seizure? The defendant’s defense lawyer can argue that the court should throw out any evidence that is “fruit of the poisonous tree,” meaning evidence that came about from the unconstitutional search and seizure. When evidence is gathered as part of an unreasonable search and seizure, the court will throw out the evidence. Keep in mind that just because the court throws out some evidence does not mean that your case will be dismissed.

Contact Our Experienced Criminal Defense Lawyers Today

If you are facing criminal charges in Ft. Worth, Dallas, or Plano, you need an experienced lawyer on your side. ContactAbel Law Firm as soon as possible to schedule your initial consultation. 

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Phone: 972.584.7837

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