What are the laws on police coming into my house without a warrant?

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What are the laws on police coming into my house without a warrant?

I was arrested for manufacturing marijuana and possession of more 1oz after the police showed up at my residence on an “anonymous tip”. They came in when my girlfriend’s daughter opened the door. They had no warrant.

Asked on November 3, 2010 under Criminal Law, Georgia

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 11 years ago | Contributor

The general rule is that police may not enter a person's home without a warrant. However, there are exceptions. The police can conduct a warrantlesssearch if you voluntarily consent to it  (ie you say it's OK to search). In fact, any person who the police reasonably think has a right to use or occupy the property, like a roommate or guest in your home, or a co-worker at your office, can consent to the search. 

 Note:  The person consenting cannot have been pressured or tricked into agreeing to the search.  However, if the police show up at your door without a warrant, step outside then close and lock the door behind you. Otherwise they might just walk in and later argue that you" implied" an invitation by leaving the door open. If they ask to come in, tell them "I do not consent to a search." Finally, be sure to tell roommates, guests, co-workers and renters that they cannot consent on your behalf.

 

As your girlfriend's daughter had a right to be there and she opened the door to the police, they may argue that they had consent to enter.  Without more details of what she said to them and what they said to her, it is hard to further advise. Since this is a highlyy technical are of the law and procedural improprieties can and do occur, you need to speak with a criminal defense attorney ASAP.  They may be able to the evidence thrown out based on an illegal search.

 

Note:  Additionally, the police do not need your consent to search your home if the following circumstances apply:

 

· "Exigent Circumstances". If the police have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and there exists "exigent circumstances". This means a situation where people are in "imminent" (immediate) danger, evidence faces imminent destruction or a suspect will escape.

· "Plain View".  A police officer that spots something in plain view does not need a search warrant to seize the object. In order for a plain view search to be legal, the officer must be in a place he has the right to be in and the object they seizes must be plainly visible in this location.

· "Grab Area".  If a suspect has been legally arrested, the police may search the defendant and the area within the defendant's immediate control so that they cannot have access to any weapons or the like. 

· "Cursory Visual Inspection".  Following an arrest, the police may make a protective sweep search i.e. (walk through a residence) if they reasonably believe that a dangerous accomplice may be hiding in an area near where the defendant was arrested. Any evidence of criminal activity is in plain view may be legally seized.

 


IMPORTANT NOTICE: The Answer(s) provided above are for general information only. The attorney providing the answer was not serving as the attorney for the person submitting the question or in any attorney-client relationship with such person. Laws may vary from state to state, and sometimes change. Tiny variations in the facts, or a fact not set forth in a question, often can change a legal outcome or an attorney's conclusion. Although AttorneyPages.com has verified the attorney was admitted to practice law in at least one jurisdiction, he or she may not be authorized to practice law in the jurisdiction referred to in the question, nor is he or she necessarily experienced in the area of the law involved. Unlike the information in the Answer(s) above, upon which you should NOT rely, for personal advice you can rely upon we suggest you retain an attorney to represent you.

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