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Understanding the Legal Limitations of Search Warrants

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One of the most important aspects of law enforcement is the warrant. A judge must approve a warrant of arrest or a warrant to search to assure that such operations are lawful and have sufficient evidence. This is stipulated in the U.S. Constitution under the Fourth Amendment. 

However, there are some instances and situations that allow a search from a law enforcement officer without a warrant. Police officers are allowed to conduct reasonable searches in the absence of a warrant, but what denotes a reasonable search is subject to a few considerations.

Consent can warrant a reasonable search

When a person allows an officer to search their premises or belongings, they are granting the officer their consent. Consent must be given without coercion or intimidation to be valid, and its conditions must be followed. An example of this is when an officer is given consent to search a person’s yard. They can legally inspect the yard but are not allowed to search beyond this limitation.

Certain locations, however, do not need consent

Police can perform searches outside your premises without consent. A good example of this is when the police search the dumpster outside a suspect’s apartment or the trash bins they have left for pickup on the curb.

Neither of these things has a reasonable expectation of privacy. As such, they do not require consent to be searched. 

Exigent circumstances also permit entrance and search

When an officer suspects danger (e.g. responding to a 911 call that mentioned gunshot noises), that officer can enter the premises without a search warrant. The basis of criminal activity allows law enforcement agents to enter locations to prevent further violence or criminal activity, without requiring the permission of a judge that may take hours to obtain. 

Seeing evidence of a crime in plain view also allows officers to enter a location or search a vehicle without a warrant. 

The evidence collected outside of a search warrant is still open to interpretation

Although such evidence was in plain view, the evidence gathered outside the confines of a search warrant is subject to interpretation by the court. Anyone accused of a crime can ask an attorney to evaluate police conduct in the event that there might be a violation of the accused person’s constitutional rights.

This is a regularly-used strategy in criminal defense cases that can improve an accused person’s standing in court. It can even reduce the impact of an arrest or cause a criminal case to be dismissed entirely in some situations.

In conclusion

If you have been accused of committing some sort of crime or violation, it is important to know your rights and the limitations of law enforcement. Understanding the complexities of the U.S. Constitution’s sections on search and arrest can help you with your case, especially when violations of your constitutional rights have occurred. 

It does not just stop at knowing your rights, but exercising them as well. Refusing to give consent to a search does not make you any more liable in the eyes of a court. It only means you are using your knowledge of the law to protect your rights as a citizen of the United States. 

If you need the help of the best lawyers in Boston to defend yourself in a criminal case, give us a call at The Fernandez Firm. We’d be more than happy to give you the legal expertise you need.

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