Whether anecdotally or through television and movies, some of us may have heard of people who, when asked by police for permission to search their homes, cars, and/or persons, sassily reply, “Get a warrant!” Whether they know it or not, these people are asserting their Fourth Amendment rights and demanding that law enforcement procure a search warrant signed by a judge before officers begin rummaging through the individual’s personal effects. What reallyhappens, though, when a person does assert his or her Fourth Amendment rights? Are there negative consequences to demanding to see a search warrant before agreeing to let police search your home, your car, or your person?
Warrants are Not Needed in Every Circumstance
One outcome of making a demand to see a warrant is that law enforcement will simply ignore your request and proceed with the search anyway. Law enforcement is able to do this in certain situations because of exceptions to the warrant requirement. If evidence is in danger of being destroyed or transported away, if there is an emergency that threatens someone’s life, or if you are stopped in an automobile, law enforcement may be able to search the location for evidence of a crime so long as law enforcement has probable cause to believe evidence will be found in that location.
Prepare to be Inconvenienced if Law Enforcement Has to Obtain a Warrant
Suppose there is no exception to the warrant requirement and you refuse to consent to a search absent a warrant. Then what? Law enforcement will be required to go and obtain a warrant signed by a judge, but this does not mean they will simply leave your home or place of business until they return with a warrant. Several law enforcement officers are likely to remain behind and order you and anyone else present to either remain in one location where you can be observed or to leave the premises entirely while the search is conducted. This is to ensure that no items of evidence are hidden and the scene is not disturbed while law enforcement is waiting on the search warrant to be prepared and signed.
It’s Best Not to Interfere with Law Enforcement When They are Executing a Search Warrant
While it is not a crime to refuse to consent to a search of your home or person, interfering with law enforcement who have obtained a warrant and are trying to execute that warrant may very well be considered a crime. As tempting as it might be to resist what you feel is an unlawful search, it is almost always best to let law enforcement do their job and challenge the legality of the search at a later time. Remember, though, just because you should not interfere with the execution of a warrant, this does not mean you must actively assist or aid law enforcement in their search.
Can Dawes Legal, LLC Help Me?
If you are facing criminal charges after law enforcement searched your person, your place of business, your car, and/or your home, pick up the phone right away and speak with Dawes Legal, LLC. We will take aggressive legal action against unconstitutional and/or unlawful searches, thereby safeguarding your privacy and helping to ensure that law enforcement and the prosecution do not benefit from unlawful searches and invasions of your privacy. Such action can result in the reduction or dismissal of criminal charges in some situations. Our firm is standing by to assist you with your criminal law needs: you can reach Dawes Legal, LLC at (614) 733-9999.