The answer to the question, “Do the police have to have a warrant to carry out a search?”  is found in the following article. Make sure you know your rights.

Most people are aware that in particular searches the police need to have a warrant in order to carry out a legal search, but this is not always the case. In fact, not every arrest, seizure, or search requires a warrant. If you believe that there are complicated search and seizure issues associated with your criminal charges, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney who can evaluate your case in full.

Basics of Warrants

A warrant is an order legally made official with a judge’s signature. It allows the police to look in a particular location and take specific materials discovered at that location. The warrant does limit the time period in which the police are authorized to search, usually explained by a range of hours.

What the Supreme Court Says

The Supreme Court has ruled that police conduct in the form of searching without a warrant may still comply with your Fourth Amendment Rights as long as that behavior is considered “reasonable.” The exceptions usually made to your Fourth Amendment rights in this vein usually have to do with situations where the court sees the warrant requirement as blocking the job of a law enforcement official.

The Supreme Court tries to find a delicate balance between protecting individual rights and allowing officers of the law to carry out their duties in a reasonable and lawful manner. A no-exceptions-made policy about requiring a warrant could lead officers to take up valuable time obtaining one when time is of the essence in terms of disappearing evidence, suspects, or witnesses. That being said, it is a fine line to walk between Constitutional rights and police officer duties, which is why this issue is constantly explored in court cases.

Situations with No Warrant Required

There are several different circumstances under which the police are able to forego obtaining a warrant to search. These include if the individual in question freely gives his or her consent, if evidence has been located “within plain view,” if the search is conducted in conjunction with a lawful arrest, or if there are “exigent circumstances.” Your criminal defense lawyer can help you understand some of the other mechanics related to these situations.

This last category can be somewhat broad when it comes to interpretation. One situation that might apply has to do with evidence. Since it is a police officer’s job to preserve evidence where possible, the police may be able to enter a home if they believe that evidence is being destroyed inside. If someone is being injured or trying to escape, the police may also be able to enter a residence without a search warrant.

However, the hard and fast rule is that a warrant is required prior to the search or seizure of any property or individual.  If an exception to this rule is sought, it must meet certain and specific factual and legal standards.

If you suspect that your rights might have been violated in terms of a search and seizure, the most important thing you can do is contact a Mesa criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. Only an attorney can help you determine whether the police were within their authority to search and seize.


This blog should be used for informational purposes only. It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.