Crime… and its Aftermath


A Search of Your Home: Search Warrants & Emergencies

  • Without your permission, police can search your home if they have a signed search warrant that tells the address of the house, what police will be looking for, and why police believe there will be contraband, evidence of crime, or “fruits of crime,” meaning something that came from a crime.
    • You have the right to read the warrant and the “probable cause statement” on it. Police can only search the places the warrant says they can search, and they can only look for the things the warrant says they are looking for (but they can still use against you the illegal things out in plain sight while they are there).
    • Police will search anyway, unless it is the wrong house and you let them know it, and if they pay attention.
    • Do not put yourself in danger by provoking the law enforcement officers. A lawyer can help you challenge an illegal search in court later.
    • Under most circumstances, police must knock to alert you they are there for a search, but they won’t wait long before they come on in.
  • Police can enter your house without your permission if there is an emergency in progress.
    • If they see evidence of crime while they are there responding to the emergency, they can use what they find “in plain view” to build a criminal case.


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