If the police are investigating you for a crime, it is highly likely they will show up on your property looking for evidence. They may demand to enter and conduct a search, but can they do so without a warrant?
Basically, the Fourth Amendment protects citizens from illegal search and seizure. This means that, except under special circumstances, law enforcement cannot search and seize your property without a signed warrant from a judge. If law enforcement enters your property without a valid warrant, any evidence obtained therein may be inadmissible during your trial.
But, there are times when the police may not necessarily need the warrant to access your property.
While the Fourth Amendment broadly protects you from unreasonable search and seizure, there are instances when the police may conduct a warrantless search on your property. Here are two such instances:
If you willfully allow them onto your property
Sometimes, law enforcement can enter and search your property if you or someone else in control of the property gives them consent to do so. However, do keep in mind that the police cannot trick or coerce you into letting them into your property.
If there are exigent circumstances
Some emergency situations may prompt the police to access and search your property without a warrant. For instance, if the police suspect that you are in possession of material that is a risk to public safety or if they believe that the process of obtaining a warrant may leave room for interference with crucial evidence, then they can enter your property without a warrant.
Being placed under criminal investigation is a big deal. Knowing your legal rights and obligations can help you safeguard your rights and interests if you are under investigation for a crime.