Search & Seizure
When police officers investigate a person or a home, they may not necessarily be conducting a “search” as recognized by law. For a search to occur, two items must be present. First, the person or place to be searched must have a reasonable expectation of privacy. Secondly, the expectation of privacy must be reasonable.
Once both of these items are satisfied, a police investigation may constitute a “search.” A person has a reasonable expectation of privacy in:
- Hotel room
- Any room that a person physically lives in
If a person does not have a reasonable expectation of privacy, then a search did not occur. The police may freely search a person’s garbage, because an expectation of privacy does not exist in garbage.
When Search Warrants are Needed
In order for the police to conduct a search on a person’s home, they will usually need to have a search warrant. The police obtain a search warrant by swearing out an affidavit and providing probable cause in front of an impartial magistrate or judge. The search warrant will specifically list the place to be searched, the reason for the search, and what items may be seized during the search.
The police do not need a search warrant if the owner or resident of the home consents to a search. If a person consents to a search, he may revoke his consent at any time or only allow the police to search certain areas. For example, a person may consent to a search of a house, but not the garage. Additionally, the police do not need a search warrant to enter a home if a person’s life is in danger or if they reasonable believe that evidence will be destroyed.
The police may take aerial photos of a person’s home without a search warrant. Further, the police may eavesdrop on conversations to obtain enough evidence to procure a search warrant. However, if the police must use sophisticated equipment such as listening to telephone conversations or using hi-tech photography equipment, then the evidence retrieved will be considered illegal.
Facing Prosecution in The State of Texas?
Meet with Houston Criminal Defense Lawyer Mario Madrid
Searches During a Traffic Stop
People do not have a reasonable expectation for their vehicles. If the police develop probable cause that a crime has occurred or is about to occur, they may legally search the vehicle without a search warrant.
However, the police must reasonably believe that evidence of the crime will be found inside of the vehicle.
To discuss issues in a specific case, contact criminal defense attorney at 713-877-9400 for a free evaluation.