When can police search your property without consent?

On Behalf of | Jul 16, 2020 | Criminal Defense

You have a right to privacy in your own home, but law enforcement officers who want to investigate you may not respect that right. Although you have refused to let them into your house, they may not stop trying to find evidence or a way in without your permission.

If officers are trying to gather evidence against you, you might catch them lingering near your home or trying to poke around your property. If you don’t give them permission to come inside and they don’t have a search warrant, when can they enter or search your property? 

Officers can enter a property when they suspect a crime in progress

If officers witness something that makes them believe a crime is in progress, they can enter private property without a warrant. They can also usually enter a property if they do so while in pursuit of someone from another crime scene.

Anything from the smell of burning marijuana to the sound of gunfire might be a reason for an officer to walk right into your home without your permission. In some cases, they might even do damage to the door or break in a window in order to access the property if they suspect a crime is underway.

Officers can search publicly visible parts of your property without permission

Police officers walking around the edge of your property or staring at your fence from the sidewalk may feel intrusive and frustrating, but it is probably legal. Officers may try to make casual observations from outside your house in order to justify a warrant to search the premises.

They can also search your property if you discard potential evidence. Once you move your trash to the curb for pickup, officers can theoretically look through it for evidence. However, while the trash bin remains next to your house inside what is known as the curtilage or frequently used outdoor areas adjacent to your home, officers cannot search them without a warrant or your consent.

Getting advice and discussing your situation with someone who understands police procedures and civil rights can be most beneficial if you find yourself facing an investigation. If you believe that officers violated your rights or the law in their attempts to collect evidence, that could impact the criminal defense strategy you use to fight back against any pending charges.