Many people assume that police officers always need a warrant if they conduct a search, seize property or arrest someone. While it’s true that officers need warrants in many cases, there are some in which they don’t.
Understanding a bit about this can help people who are interacting with the police. While this isn’t a comprehensive list of times when officers don’t need a warrant, these three situations usually don’t require a warrant:
They have permission to search
Police officers may ask if they can search a specific area or conduct a search of your personal property. If you give them permission, they don’t need to have a warrant. They also don’t need a warrant to seize illegal items or evidence of a crime if it’s plain view. For example, if there’s cocaine on the living room floor and they can see it from the door, they don’t need a warrant.
They’re conducting a felony arrest in public
The public arrest of a person for a felony charge doesn’t require a warrant. If a person is in a place that’s not open to the public, the officers will need a warrant. The only exception to this is if the officers are trying to apprehend a fleeing felon.
They already conducted an arrest
If the police arrest someone, they typically won’t need a warrant to conduct a search of the person to determine if the person has weapons. They’re also allowed to search the areas that are directly in the individual’s reach.
Anyone facing criminal charges should ensure they know their rights and responsibilities. Having legal guidance is important because you need to know what options you have and you want to protect your rights.