Criminal Warrants & Your Rights

If you find yourself in a situation in which a police officer wants to search you or your home, it is important to know your rights and exercise those rights. Finding yourself in a situation like this can be very nerve-racking, whether or not you are guilty of a crime. Our local law enforcement agents are authority figures and are in place to protect and serve the community, but that authority can rattle even the coolest person’s nerves. If you understand your rights and civil liberties, making it through these difficult circumstances can become much easier.

It is important to remember that if a police officer has a warrant to search your home, then the officer is allowed to search within the limits of the warrant with or without your consent. To obtain a warrant, the officer must have had the warrant issued by a neutral and detached Judge or Magistrate. If you find yourself in this position, it is important to remain calm and cooperative. First, ask to see the warrant, read it carefully, and if you have any questions contact your local attorney.

Common Question:

Do the police always need a warrant to search me or my home?

No, there are situations in which a warrant is not necessary for police to search you or your home. Consent is one such situation. If you give consent, no warrant is necessary. Valid consent requires that you voluntarily gave it without being forced or threatened by the police. You are in no way legally obligated to consent to a search.
If consent is not given, then the officers will be required to go to a neutral and detached judge or magistrate for a warrant. If you are ever confused as to whether or not you should give consent to a search you should contact your local attorney immediately.

A second situation where a warrant is not necessary is when an arrest is made. Generally, whenever an officer makes an arrest, he or she is permitted to conduct a search of you and any of the immediately surrounding areas in order to properly and safely secure the area. If an arrest is made at your home, officers may also conduct a search of the home if they reasonably believe that their safety may be in jeopardy or if they reasonably believe that there could be other people in the house destroying potential evidence. All of these circumstances are referred to as “exigent circumstances”, and whether or not the search will be valid will depend on a number of surrounding factors. The validity of the search will be determined by a judge.

While any situation involving these types of circumstances can be quite stressful, it is much easier to handle if you are aware of your rights and civil liberties. Understanding and exercising your rights can make you feel more comfortable and calm in handling the situation and may help you avoid conviction if you are arrested. If you need an attorney to assist you with your criminal defense case, Copeland & Romines is the place for you. Contact us today at (606)523-5100, toll free at (866) 868-8376, or e-mail us.