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When Can the Police Search My Home?

Picture this scenario for a moment. You have just arrived home after a long day at work, and you are relaxing when you hear a knock on your front door. Upon opening the door, you find three police officers who inform you that they suspect you of selling drugs. They ask you if they can come inside and search your apartment. You, knowing that you have drugs sprawled out all across your living room coffee table, consent to the search and are subsequently arrested. To some, this may sound ridiculous, but you wouldn’t believe how many times I’ve had a client come to me for help regarding a drug charge where the police seized the drugs and other evidence as a result of the client’s consenting to a warrantless search of his or her home.

Most people don’t realize that the police can’t just go around knocking on doors and looking for drugs and other illegal activity just for the heck of it. Searches and seizures are governed by the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and, in Texas, a search conducted without a warrant is actually presumed to be invalid.

The Right to be Free From Unreasonable Searches and Seizures

The Fourth Amendment provides that “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” A search generally occurs when an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable is infringed upon. Additionally, a seizure of property occurs where there is some meaningful interference with an individual’s possessory interests in that property.

Therefore, with few exceptions, in order for the police to search your house or apartment, a valid warrant is required. The primary way police avoid this constitutional requirement is by obtaining your consent to the search. Many times, people are afraid that if they refuse to allow the police to search their home they may look guilty or irritate the police. However, you may want to think of it this way. If you have nothing to hide, then why waste your time and allow the police to rummage through your home and all of your private belongings? And, if you do have something to hide, why in the world would you agree to let the police look for whatever it is that you’re hiding? When it comes to your freedom, nothing positive (on your account) is ever gained from agreeing to a warrantless search of your home.

Will the Police be Upset if I Refuse to Allow a Search of My Home?

Yes, but who cares? Many times, the police will lead into a request to search your home by stating that they have probable cause. Well, that’s great. But, it isn’t enough unless they take that probable cause to a courthouse, give it to a judge, and get a warrant. The most significant consequence of consenting to a warrantless search of your home is that you will have essentially waived your Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. This means that there will be very little hope that your attorney may succeed in attacking or suppressing evidence seized as a result of a warrantless search. If you have questions or concerns regarding your Fourth Amendment rights, contact Mark O’Bryan today at (972) 372-4054 for a free consultation.

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