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Can Police Search My Property Without a Warrant in California?

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Sonoma DUI Arrest LawyerIndividuals in the United States have important rights protected by the Constitution and other legislation. One of these rights is the right to be free from “unreasonable search and seizure.” The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution ensures that police and other government officials may not search a person’s property or take property without a legitimate reason. In many cases, police must get a search warrant signed by a judge before they can search a person’s property. However, there are many exceptions to search and seizure laws and our right to privacy varies depending on the type of property in question.

Arrests for driving under the influence (DUI) can escalate into much greater issues when police search the car and find evidence of another crime. Whether you have been charged with a criminal offense after a police search or you simply want to know your rights, understanding when police can and cannot search without a search warrant is crucial.

When Can Police Conduct a Warrantless Search of a Residence?

Criminal charges often hinge upon evidence collected on personal property. Many people are confused about when police have the right to enter their home and search for evidence of criminal activity. In most cases, police must obtain a search warrant before they can search a person’s home. However, there are exceptions to this rule. For example, police may enter a home without a search warrant if there is illegal contraband or evidence of a crime in plain sight or if they are pursuing a fugitive. Police may also conduct a warrantless search if there is a reasonable belief that someone is in immediate danger or that evidence is being destroyed. Lastly, police may search a home without a warrant if a resident gives them permission to do so.

Can Police Search My Vehicle After a DUI Arrest?  

When conducting a traffic stop, police sometimes ask if they can search the vehicle. You have the right to decline, however, police may still search the car without a warrant. Cars, trucks, vans, and other automobiles fall under the “automobile exception” which means that police do not need a search warrant. Police may search your car if there is “probable cause” or a reasonable belief of criminal activity.

Police may also search your vehicle without a warrant if your car is impounded after an arrest. For example, if you are arrested on suspicion of drunk driving and your car is impounded, the police may search the vehicle.

Evidence Collected in an Unlawful Police Search

When police do not have a search warrant, probable cause, or another valid reason for searching someone’s property and they uncover evidence, that evidence may be inadmissible in criminal proceedings. If you suspect that you or a loved one were the victim of an unlawful search, contact a criminal defense lawyer right away.

Contact a San Francisco Criminal Defense Lawyer

If you are facing charges for driving under the influence, contact Burglin Law Offices, P.C. for help. Call Napa criminal defense attorney Paul Burglin at 415-729-7300 for a free, confidential consultation.




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