If you’ve been charged with a criminal offense, then the prosecution probably has physical evidence to present against you. This evidence likely wasn’t voluntarily handed over to investigators. Instead, it was probably obtained through a search warrant.
However, in many cases, law enforcement secures incriminating evidence through warrantless searches. Although you might think that this violates your Constitutional protections against warrantless searches and seizures, there are a number of exceptions to the warrant requirement that police officers rely upon to gather the evidence they need to charge you.
If you want to ensure that you’re able to protect yourself as strongly as possible in your case, then you need to know about these warrant exceptions so that you can see if they were properly utilized. If they weren’t, then you might be able to block the prosecution’s evidence from being used against you.
Exceptions to the warrant requirement
There are several exceptions to the warrant requirement. Let’s look at some of them:
- Consent: This is the exception that probably gets the most people into trouble. Here, an individual simply agrees to allow the police to search their vehicle, their home, or their person. If you want to protect yourself, then you should never consent to a search.
- Plain view: Here, the police are allowed to conduct a search if something illegal is left in plain view when the officer is legally allowed to be where they are when they see it. This often happens during traffic stops when police officers, while standing outside of the vehicle, observe narcotics within the vehicle.
- Search incident to arrest: When you’re placed under arrest, the police have the ability to search you and the area near you and in your immediate control. This oftentimes leads to the discovery of incriminating evidence that’s in the arrested person’s pocket.
- Hot pursuit: If the police are in pursuit of a suspect and that individual flees into a private residence, then law enforcement can enter that residence without first acquiring a warrant.
- Impounded vehicles: The police are allowed to search your car if it’s being impounded, primarily for the purposes of inventorying everything within the vehicle. But this can lead to law enforcement finding incriminating evidence.
- Probation searches: If you’re on probation or parole, then your liberty interests are curtailed to a certain extent. This includes being free of warrantless searches. So, your probation or parole officer can search you, your home, and your vehicle without a warrant.
- School searches: Students are afforded lower privacy expectations. This more fully subjects them to warrantless searches.
What to do if you think that an exception wasn’t followed or was improperly utilized
In these instances, you’ll want to move the court to suppress the prosecution’s evidence. After all, if the police didn’t follow the law, then the evidence they’ve gathered against you may be tainted by illegality. It would be unfair for this evidence to be used against you. If you can successfully suppress evidence, then you can significantly damage the prosecution’s case and increase your chances of beating the charges levied against you.
Be aggressive in your criminal defense
A criminal conviction can leave you with far-reaching consequences that can last a lifetime. That’s why you need to be aggressive in defending yourself. A strong criminal defense team might be able to help you craft the compelling legal arguments that you need on your side to be successful in your case, which is why you might want to think about reaching out to one of these law firms if you think you could use some help in your fight against the prosecution.