Protecting your rights: A guide to Georgia search warrants

On Behalf of | May 5, 2024 | Criminal Defense

When law enforcement knocks at your door during a criminal investigation (drug crime, robbery, etc.), your actions (and theirs) can impact your situation. 

It is easy to succumb to fear in police encounters and blindly comply with their requests, but doing so might jeopardize your future. The steps below can help you manage the situation without harming your potential defense if arrested.

Stay calm for a clear mind

It is best to remain calm when dealing with the police, as panicking can lead to rash decisions. Take a few calming breaths before responding or opening the door to ensure your responses protect your rights.

Ask to see the warrant

Under the Constitution’s Fourth Amendment, Americans have the right to privacy. That means the police need a search warrant signed by a judge to enter and search your premises. Without one, you are generally under no legal obligation to let them come inside.

Know when they may search without one

While a warrant is usually necessary for a legal search, some exceptions allow officers entry without one. These exceptions include consent from the property owner and seeing illegal items in plain view.

Law enforcement may also search without a warrant due to exigent circumstances. Under Georgia law, this means situations with a risk of evidence destruction or police officer harm. However, a lawful arrest must already have occurred for exigent circumstances to apply. 

Pay attention to everything they say and do

When officers present a valid warrant, you must allow them to enter but keep a watchful eye on them and remember their actions. If they violate your rights during the encounter, it may benefit your defense. Consider legal guidance if arrested to improve the odds of a good outcome.