Is the Evidence From a Warrantless Search of Your Home Admissible?
The police build a case by collecting evidence, and then prosecutors present that evidence to the courts to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that an accused individual committed a criminal offense. In order to prevent abuses of the system, there are strict limitations on the conduct of both prosecutors and law enforcement officials.
In situations where the police violate someone’s civil rights, for example, it is sometimes possible to have certain evidence excluded from criminal proceedings. Such rules deter law-breaking and inappropriate behavior by police officers eager to secure a conviction.
If police search your home, what they find inside might have helped them build a case against you. If they did not have a warrant at the time of their search, can you potentially ask the courts to exclude that evidence from your trial?
Excluding evidence requires proving the police violated your rights or the law
If you hope to challenge evidence and prevent the prosecution from using it against you, you will generally have to show that the police somehow violated the rules during their search of your home.
In most cases, police do need a warrant to enter your home. However, officers can get around this requirement by inviting themselves in after knocking at someone’s front door. When you invite an officer inside, if they see something in plain sight that implies a law violation, they can potentially continue searching.
If police entered when you said they should not, they will have to prove they had justification for doing so. Generally, to enter without consent or a warrant, the police will have to show that they had probable cause to suspect a crime in progress.
What kind of scenarios justify a warrantless search without consent?
Police officers can often build an explanation for an unjustified search after the fact. Anything from the sound of a shredder or a toilet flushing to gunshots and screams coming from a loud television could be the reason that they enter your home without permission. They might also force entry if they believe someone they were in the act of pursuing entered your property.
Going over police reports and evidence with a criminal defense lawyer can give you a better idea about whether or not challenging the validity of the evidence could be an option in your criminal case.