Police officers have certain techniques they use to try to get the information they need from people. In some cases, they need to gather physical evidence. One of the easiest ways for them to do this is to ask if they can search a location and obtain permission. In the absence of permission, they’ll likely need a search warrant to be able to search for the evidence they need.
There are very few situations that allow for a police officer to search without a warrant and without permission. These are very specific and include:
1. When evidence is in clear sight
If there is evidence of a crime in plain sight, the officers can gather the evidence. An example of this is if there’s a crack pipe on the passenger seat of a vehicle that can be seen through the window. In that case, the person doesn’t expect privacy, so a warrant isn’t needed.
2. After an arrest
If a person is arrested in public for a felony, the police officers usually don’t need a warrant to conduct a search. A person who’s arrested, even for a misdemeanor, can be searched. This includes their person, their belongings and all areas that are within the person’s reach.
3. In emergency situations
Police officers can sometimes conduct a warrantless search if there’s an emergency situation going on. This includes situations, such as hearing shots fired and needing to conduct searches to keep the public and first responders safe.
Everyone should know their rights when they’re dealing with police officers. Knowing what to watch for when you’re interacting can help determine if there’s anything you need to bring up as part of your defense strategy.