YOUR RIGHTS IN POLICE SEARCHES
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Sacramento Criminal Attorney Explains Your Rights in Police Searches
Law enforcement is needed to maintain the safety and order of society but if you face any interactions with police and the law, it can feel anything but safe at times. In fact, it can be a stressful and scary situation. The Fourth Amendment protects us from unreasonable searches and seizures but like all things pertaining to the law, there are exceptions. Understanding how to interact with the police and what your rights are is important, especially when it comes to searches. Contact a Sacramento criminal attorney for any specific questions or situations you may have.
What is a search warrant?
Generally speaking, police officers must have a valid search warrant to search your home or car. A search warrant is granted by a judge when there is “probable cause” of either criminal activity or contraband. A search warrant is intentionally specific in what and where police officers are allowed to conduct a search. For example, if police officers have a search warrant to search your place of residence, they are not automatically entitled to search your vehicle as well. Additionally, if the search warrant is to search for a large and expensive painting, police officers are not allowed to rummage through locations such as drawers or boxes that the painting would clearly not fit in.
Exceptions to a Search Warrant – There are situations in which a search warrant is not mandatory. Because of the varying factors in each situation, it’s always best to consult with a Sacramento criminal attorney for more information.
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Knowing your legal rights when it comes to law enforcement is something everyone needs to understand. Consenting to a search without a warrant is a right you have, but it’s also important to know you have a right to say no and more importantly, it’s crucial you understand the benefits of saying no to a search.
Consent and Your Right to Say “No”
If you, or someone who has authority over your property, grants permission without being coerced or tricked into doing so, a search warrant is not necessary. People have various interactions with law enforcement and whether you broke the law or not, it’s important you understand your rights. Bear in mind that police officers do not have to tell you you have a right to refuse a search, but it is your constitutional right to say no, so long as you are not crossing any international borders.
Saying no can also help win your case should you be taken to court. If there is any chance evidence could be found, saying yes to a search will destroy your case in court. It’s always possible a search is conducted without consent. When you refuse to a search, the police officer will have to prove to the court there was a “probable cause” to do a search without a warrant. A Sacramento criminal attorney can use this to win your case.
If the police officer is questioning you, you may exercise your right to remain silent. A police officer cannot arrest you for exercising your Miranda Rights but it definitely could raise suspicion especially if you had already answered to previous questions. Know and exercise your rights but don’t disrespect the police officer as that could complicate your case should you go to court. It’s always best to reach out to a Sacramento criminal attorney and explain everything in detail as it pertains to your situation.
Even if you did not break a law, you may not know what they could find. Perhaps some illegal drugs fell out of a passenger’s pocket and got stuck within the crevices of your seats without your knowledge. Or maybe a small marijuana joint got stuck on your shoe and you brought it all the way home with you. Because any person who has authority over the property can grant search permission, that means your roommate could consent. And although the extent of the search is limited to the common areas and not your bedroom, if the police officer has enough probable cause from the findings in the common areas, they could search your bedroom. Every situation is unique and contingent on many factors. Speak to a Sacramento criminal attorney for legal advice.
The windows in your vehicle make it extremely easy for a police officer to quickly scan and peek inside. If there is contraband or evidence of a criminal activity is in obvious sight, a police officer can seize the item. If a police officer already has a right to be on your property, such as a domestic violence call, and spots obvious objects of criminal activity such as marijuana plants, he or she can lawfully seize the objects.
If there is imminent danger or potential of serious damage or loss of property, the police officer can conduct a search without a warrant. It’s crucial to understand the broadness of property loss. For example, in a DUI case, the suspect’s blood alcohol content is the primary evidence used to make any charges. But it’s also evidence that’s “fleeing” as time passes – your blood alcohol level decreases as time goes on. Therefore, a police officer can enter your property to ensure the evidence won’t be lost. DUI and exigent circumstances in general are legally complicated. Having a strong Sacramento criminal attorney on your side is the best thing you can do to protect your freedom.
If you are being arrested in your property, the police can search for any evidence that accompanies with the reason for your arrest. Additionally, if you are arrested from your vehicle, as long as you are within reaching distance of the interior of your car or there is reason to believe your car contains evidence that accompanies your arrest, a police officer could conduct a search without a warrant.
Knowing your legal rights when it comes to law enforcement is something everyone needs to understand. Consenting to a search without a warrant is a right you have, but it’s also important to know you have a right to say no and more importantly, it’s crucial you understand the benefits of saying no to a search. Consult with a Sacramento criminal attorney if you have specific questions or are facing such a situation and need legal expertise.
There’s no substitute for a strong Sacramento criminal attorney, call the Law Office of Wing & Parisi at (916) 441-4888.
Contact us online or call at (916) 441-4888 for a free and confidential initial consultation, available in Spanish. We appear in state and federal courts in the Sacramento and Davis communities as well as throughout Placer and San Joaquin counties.