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Matthew A. Radefeld and Daniel A. Juengel

When can the police search your house without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023 | Criminal Law |

The search and seizure law in Missouri requires the police to have a warrant to conduct a search. The fourth amendment also allows you the right to be secure in your home and protects you against unreasonable searches. Nevertheless, there are situations when the police can search your home and belongings without obtaining written permission from a court of law. The following are instances where such exemptions apply.

If you consent

If, at their request, you give the police permission to search your property, officers can search it without a warrant. They are under no obligation to inform you of your rights to decline their request. However, the officer must expressly request your permission straightforwardly. Coercing or tricking you into obliging to a search is against the law, and any evidence they obtain in this manner is inadmissible in court.

It is also important to note that you are not obligated to open your door to the police if they do not have a warrant. In such instances, ask for their identification and the reason why they are at your premises. You can speak to them through the door or step outside and close the door before interacting with them.

If the evidence is in plain view

When there is clear evidence of criminal activity occurring in your home, the police have the legal authority to search and seize evidence without a warrant. The police officer must have entered the premises legally and must have probable cause that the items are illegal. Intruding personal property to obtain evidence that is not in plain view violates your rights.

If they arrest you for a crime

If the police arrest you for a crime, they have the authority to look through the property, even if they don’t have a search warrant. They may search the place for additional evidence of your crime or carry out a protective sweep of the premises in search of accomplices or weapons.

If they believe you are destroying evidence or are a fleeing suspect

When evidence is being destroyed, a suspect is fleeing, or someone is being injured, the police can search without a warrant because following procedures could jeopardize the entire operation. The duty of officers to protect life and evidence, as well as make arrests outweigh the requirement for a search warrant.