There are many misconceptions about what police officers can and cannot do. Some of the most common of these misunderstandings center around search warrants.
Make sure you have the facts about these search warrant myths if law enforcement wants to enter your house.
Myth 1: A warrant gives officer’s free rein
Contrary to common belief, warrants are usually limited in scope. When the police want to search your home, they will need to present probable cause to a judge that there is criminal activity or evidence of a crime in your home. If the judge agrees, officers may search your property. However, they must stick to the areas and times listed in the issued warrant, and they may only look for the specified materials.
For example, if the police show up at your door with a warrant to search your attic for stolen property, they must limit their search to those specific items in that location.
Despite these limitations, if law enforcement finds other indications of a crime, they may still be able to seize that evidence.
Myth 2: An officer can never enter your home without a warrant
Though in most cases law enforcement will need a warrant to enter your home, there are some exceptions, including when:
- You provide consent for a search
- Evidence is in plain view
- There is an imminent risk to public safety
Understanding the facts about search warrants can help protect you against an unlawful search. You may have legal options if you believe that officers have violated your rights.