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When can the police conduct a search?

Being convicted of a drug crime is no small thing. The resulting penalties can leave you facing jail or prison, serious fines, a damaged reputation and a mar on your record that can haunt you for years, if not decades. In hopes of obtaining these convictions, prosecutors often rely on evidence gathered by law enforcement officials during a search. Although this evidence may seem damning, if it is not gathered in accordance with the law, then it may be suppressed at trial, meaning that the prosecution may be disallowed from using it against you.

Although most people are aware that the police can obtain a search warrant, this is not the only way that they can conduct a search in accordance with the law. Another common way that searches are conducted is via consent of an individual. Whether the police want to search your car, your house or your person, they can do so if you tell them they can. However, you don’t have to consent to any search. A lawful search can also be conducted if it is conducted incident to arrest. If you are arrested, then the police can search you and your surroundings to ensure there are no items that pose a danger to the officers.

But even that is not all the ways that officers can conduct a search. They can also search and seize without a warrant any property that is in plain view. However, the police must be legally authorized to be present in that area in order for this exception to kick in.

Although this seems like a pretty wide scope, there are actually carve outs to these exceptions that can be critical when mounting a criminal defense. To ensure that you are using the law, both statutory and case law, to your benefit in these instances, it might be wise to have the assistance of a qualified legal professional by your side.

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