Do The Police Need A Warrant To Search My House For A Misdemeanor?

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Police Need A Warrant

In general, the police need a warrant to search your house in Oklahoma, even if they suspect you of committing a misdemeanor.  In any case in which the police want to search your house, you as the homeowner or renter in lawful control of the property have the right to refuse a search without a warrant unless the police are relying on one of the specific exceptions to this rule. Whether they suspect a felony or misdemeanor crime, the police need a search warrant, or some valid exception to the requirement, to enter your home.

Constitutional Protection From Illegal Searches

The right people have to have protection from illegal government searches is in the Fourth Amendment. The Fourth amendment is in the United States Constitution and is part of our nations Bill of Rights. The idea behind this right is that you have protection from the government or its agents searching you or your home. This right not only extends to your home and your person but also to the security of your papers and all other of you property or belonging and other effects.

This right to privacy from search means that before the government can perform a legal search it must get a warrant to do so. The warrant can only happen based upon probable cause of a crime and a Judge must issue it with jurisdiction over the matter at hand. This protection from illegal searches extends to both the suspicion of misdemeanor and felony crimes alike.

Search Warrant Exceptions

The law is very strict in its requirement that the government needs a warrant to search. The scope of this law extends to the core of what evidence is admissible in a Court of Law against you. If the government violates this Constitutional rule, and a Judge agrees with you, the evidence and all the fruit derived from this evidence is thrown out and cant be used to prosecute you. This is sometimes referred to as “Fruit of the Poisonous Tree“. There are certain exceptions to the warrant requirement and are as follows;

The Exigent Circumstance Exception

This exception applies mainly to felony crimes. The reason for this is they are much more serious and by their very nature sometimes require emergency Police intervention. The exemption is very narrow and only applies if the Police have probable cause to believe the evidence of the crime is in your home and that by waiting for a warrant to issue that destruction of evidence happens. One exception is if the police have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is in your house and that waiting to obtain a warrant would result in the loss or destruction of that evidence. In such cases, the police may be able to conduct a warrantless search under the “exigent circumstances” exception to the warrant requirement.

Common examples of exigent circumstances include:

  1. Hot pursuit is a big one: If the Police are actively pursuing a fleeing suspect and the suspect is trying to evade arrest and capture.
  2. An Immediate danger to life or safety: When there is an imminent threat to someone’s life or physical safety, and a delay in obtaining a warrant would be unacceptable.
  3. As mentioned above, preserving evidence: If there is a risk that important evidence may be destroyed, altered, or removed while waiting for a warrant.

Consent To The Search

Another exception is if you give the police consent to search your house. If you voluntarily agree to let the police search your home, they do not need a warrant. You may have the right to limit or restrict the terms of the search if you choose to agree to it, but in general, once you’ve agreed to a search of your home, the normal requirement for a search warrant does not apply. Tis consent can also include a consent to give the Police information or to answer Police questions.

Search Incident To Arrest

Additionally, if the police are lawfully arresting you inside your home, they may be able to conduct a search incident to arrest, and they can do so in a limited manner even without a warrant. However, this search is generally limited to the area within your immediate control and does not allow the police to search your entire home.

If officers see illegal items or obvious evidence of a crime in plain view from the door or other place where they have a legal right to be, they can generally seize the items even without a search warrant. This exception includes items that are clear violations of law, whether misdemeanors or felony crimes.

Other Search Warrant Requirements

For police to get a search warrant, they must meet very specific legal guidelines and requirements before a judge will issue the warrant. Law enforcement officers have a requirement to submit a sworn affidavit that explains the reasons they believe a search is necessary and what they expect to find with a search. The officer must provide evidence to establish probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that a search will reveal evidence of the crime. It’s not enough that officers have a strong feeling or “hunch” that they need to search; they must show clear evidence to the judge that supports their allegation of probable cause to search.

Even when they grant it, a search warrant has specific limitations and restrictions. Officers cannot go beyond the scope of the warrant and search areas of the property that aren’t specifically in the search warrant authorization.

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Get An Oklahoma Criminal Lawyer in Your Corner

The rules regarding search warrants and exceptions to the requirement for a warrant can be complex, even in a misdemeanor case, and depend on the specific circumstances of the case. If you are concerned about a search of your home, consult with an attorney who can advise you of your rights and help protect your interests. The experienced Tulsa criminal defense attorneys at Kania Law Office are here to defend you. Call 918-743-2233 or contact us online for more information and to schedule a consultation.

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