Can police search my home with arrest warrant for a former tenant who lived there before? 41 Answers as of July 11, 2013

After moving in a new duplex police came pounding my door saying they had a warrant for a "john" and I when I told them no one by that name lived there that it was only me and my boyfriend "jack" they started to come in. I asked them if they had a search warrant and one officer screamed out "just go in" and they all rush inside! They handcuffed all of us and searched our home. Again I asked them why they were here and the police officer showed me a picture of a man I didn't know. I told them I didn't know who he was and that I just moved here! They patted us down and found drugs in my pocket! I was arrested and then later released that same day! I contacted my landlord who told me that "john" was the former tenant! She gave me his number and I contacted him. He told me that on the same day that I was arrested around 1pm the cops came to his house ID'ed him but didn't make any arrest! Than they came to my house claiming to be looking for "john" when they just left his house! I was arrested at 2:20pm! Also "john" was on probation so they should have never even been to my house at all!

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Edward  D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law
Edward D. Dowling IV Attorney at Law | Edward D. Dowling IV
I would need further information and to see the search warrant in question . It may be that the police did not act properly according to the warrant and you may have a case for violation of your civil rights. You should hire or at least consult an attorney.
Answer Applies to: New York
Replied: 7/19/2011
Law Office of Andrew Subin
Law Office of Andrew Subin | Andrew Subin
I believe that the search was unlawful if they knew "John" was not present. If these facts are provable, you may have grounds for a law suit against the police for violating your civil rights.
Answer Applies to: Washington
Replied: 7/12/2011
Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law
Jonathan S. Willett Attorney at Law | Jonathan S. Willett
Police are permitted to enter a residence of a person for whom they have a warrant. Technically, however, the search of the home must be limited in scope for the purpose of their entry. Sometimes, if they enter legally and then see contraband in "plain view," they can then expand the scope of their search. That being said, your search sounds like a Fourth Amendment violation. A good attorney will nevertheless have to review the police reports and your version to determine whether the motion to suppress the evidence will be successful.
Answer Applies to: Colorado
Replied: 7/11/2011
Grant & Grant
Grant & Grant | Richard L. Grant, Esq.
Although most judge will permit a police warrant search of the home, depending on the language of the search warrant, the searching of drugs on a person(s) not mentioned in the warrant is a violation of the US Constitution, 4th Amendment. Your case needs to be reviewed to determine whether evidence seized should be suppressed by the court and cases filed be dismissed relative to this matter. Possession of Drugs and Suppression of Evidence are serious court matters. It is recommended that you immediately consult with an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney without any further delay.
Answer Applies to: California
Replied: 7/11/2011
Bloom Legal, LLC
Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
It sounds like you may very well have grounds to attempt to have the charges against you dropped or dismissed. This is an assessment which can only be made in full by consulting directly with an attorney and providing them with all of the facts of the case.
Answer Applies to: Louisiana
Replied: 7/11/2011
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C.
    Gonzalez Law Associates P.C. | Carlos Gonzalez
    You should hire a defense attorney right away, if you can, it may be that this case can be dismissed due to the errors with the warrant. Also, if the case is dismissed against you there may be a possibility that you could sue for false arrest.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    Michael Breczinski
    Michael Breczinski | Michael Breczinski
    A good attorney would argue that the entry into the house was a pretext since they had already found "John". He would try to get it and the evidence found suppressed.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/8/2011
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC
    Lacy Fields, Attorney at Law, LLC | Lacy Fields
    There is more information that I would need to know, but this sounds like grounds for a Motion to Suppress the evidence they found. If the motion is successful, the drugs are not allowed into evidence, and the case would be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: Missouri
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser
    Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
    You may have grounds to contest the search warrant, and thus possibly have the evidence they found as a result of a faulty warrant thrown out. You should consult with an attorney to know for sure.
    Answer Applies to: Kansas
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
    Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
    I would recommend that you consult with an attorney to assist you with this matter. This answer does not contain specific legal advice; if you need specific legal advice for your particular circumstances, please directly retain and consult an attorney to assist you with your particular issue. Simply because of person is charged or being investigated does not mean that they will ultimately be convicted. Everyone charged in a criminal case is presumed innocent until proven guilty. Speaking generally, warrants and searches are a huge deal in alleged narcotics offenses. The prosecution often relies heavily on evidence obtained during a search. Issues related to warrants, traffic stops, or other related seizures may ultimately be argued all the up to the Michigan Supreme Court. A small number of these issues even wind up in front of the United States Supreme Court. If a defense attorney can bring before the court, in good faith, a motion to suppress a traffic stop, arrest or investigative warrant, or other seizure, the outcome of that motion will often radically change the direction of a case. I strongly encourage you to obtain council to assist you with this matter. Most attorneys provide free initial consultations. It is certainly worth a few phone calls.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
    Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
    It certainly sounds like you have an excellent defense.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    If they had an arrest warrant they can enter and search for the person named in the warrant. If it was a search warrant they could search the premises for the items listed on the warrant and seize the contraband. If they found drugs in your pocket and you are not named on the warrant it is an illegal search and the drugs they found on you will likely be suppressed and the charges dismissed if you retain a criminal attorney.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Wow, you raise a lot of very interesting issues worthy of a law school criminal law final exam. First, did they have just an arrest warrant and / or a search warrant? You probably don't know. Second, the warrant(s) may not be valid if they had bad information that they should have know that "John" was not there - or maybe it was reasonable for them to think he was there. The police have the right to do an officer safety pat down of anyone on the premises and handcuff you. Then again, did they find the drugs via "plain feel" or did they maneuver the object around first? Bottom line: You need competent representation and we can defend you against these charges.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    It seems that if everything you say is true, that you may have a civil rights claim, or at least a claim to exclude evidence found within the curtilege of the home which was improperly found. You will need to discuss this with your attorney. If you do not have an attorney, you may contact my office to further discuss your case.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Healan Law Offices
    Healan Law Offices | William D. Healan, III
    I think you have a pretty good argument that the search was illegal.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    If the police have a valid arrest warrant and have probable cause to believe that a person is inisdie of certain premises, they can enter into the premises without permission.They would have a right to search for that person and only for that person. They could only search places where that person may be hiding.I do not feel that they had a right to handcuff you or search you. (The officers will claim that they secured you and searched you for "officers protection"). The Court would likely determine the search where the drugs were found on you to be an illegal search.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Frances R. Johnson
    Frances R. Johnson | Frances R. Johnson
    If you are charged, you need to get an attorney, whether you have one appointed (if you're unable to afford your own attorney), or if you hire your own attorney. Whichever attorney, ask him or her about filing a motion to suppress.
    Answer Applies to: Colorado
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Dunnings Law Firm
    Dunnings Law Firm | Steven Dunnings
    It would depend on the contents of the arrest warrant.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    We are criminal defense attorneys in Augusta, Georgia. It is important that you retain, as soon as possible, a criminal lawyer to discuss all your rights and options, including a suppression motion. Good luck!
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Based on the facts presented it sounds like the police acted improperly. The evidence against you could possibly be suppressed and you may have a civil claim for damages because of what they did. You will have to file a Notice of Claim within ninety days of the incident. You should consult with an attorney right away.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Ferguson & Ferguson
    Ferguson & Ferguson | Randy W. Ferguson
    Get an attorney. They should not have entered your house without a warrant. You should have a good chance of winning your case.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    With an arrest warrant, an officer can make reasonable entry to effect the arrest. An arrest warrant is not a search warrant. You should seek the assistance of a competent criminal defense attorney to review this matter as to whether the police actions were appropriate and whether they violated your constitutional rights.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C.
    Michael Anthony Wing, P.C. | Michael Anthony Wing
    It sounds like you have a legitimate suppression argument. You will need your lawyer to investigate and illustrate the facts you describe below to a court of competent jurisdiction. Depending on what drugs, that may require you to get to circuit court instead of district court as district court only has preliminary jurisdiction over felonies. If the drug was anything other than marijuana, it will be circuit court as all other controlled substances will be a felony, and district court does not hear constitutional objections. Stay well.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Nelson & Lawless
    Nelson & Lawless | Terry Nelson
    CAN they? Sure. They did. Was it right? Maybe not. What could you do about it if you had not been arrested? Probably nothing effective. Of course you can now fight the charges. When arrested or charged with any crime, the proper questions are, can any evidence obtained in a search or confession be used against you, and can you be convicted, and what can you do? Raise all possible defenses with whatever admissible and credible witnesses, evidence and facts are available for legal arguments, for evidence suppression or other motions, or at trial. While this isn't a 'capital case', you certainly face potential jail and fines, so handle it right. Effective plea-bargaining, using those defenses, could possibly keep you out of jail, or at least dramatically reduce it. Go to trial if it can't be resolved with motions or a plea bargain. There is no magic wand to wave and make it all disappear. Not exactly a do it yourself project in court for someone who does not know how to effectively represent himself against a professional prosecutor intending to convict and jail you. If you don't know how to do these things effectively, then hire an attorney that does, who will try to get a dismissal, diversion, reduction or other decent outcome through plea bargain, or take it to trial if appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A.
    Michael D. Fluke, P.A. | Michael D. Fluke
    If the police have a warrant, they may lawfully enter and secure the home. The question becomes can they remove drugs from your pocket. That depends on how the drugs were packaged (could they have been mistaken for a weapon or were they obviously drugs by feel). There may also be issues with the validity of the warrant itself. I suggest you consult a local criminal defense attorney to discuss your case in greater detail and learn all of your rights and options. Good luck.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    You need a good lawyer who is ready to put some work into investigation (and probably an investigator, too.) First, after reading your whole question it leads me to ask you - why would they do this to you? Why would the cops make up the desire to arrest a person, supposedly get a warrant, go his place & leave him alone, but then later come to your place and harass you? Generally, if police do something to make up an excuse to enter a home, car, etc., it is because they suspect crime is occurring but they cannot get the proof they need to get a warrant. If this is true, up to the lawyer. If it is not true, then why you? Why risk their careers to hassle you? Anyway, if the police had a warrant - that can be confirmed or disproved. If they did not, then they absolutely had no right to enter. (Just because John is on probation does not mean he did not have a warrant. He could have a motion to revoke probation, he could have a new case, he could owe child support, etc.) If they had a warrant, go to the next step. Did they already go to John's house before they came to yours? (still wondering why . . . ) If so, this will show that they are lying in any claim that they had reasonable belief that John lived there and was there. Which combines with entry into the home - what was their basis for entering the home if you said that there was no John. (I have not researched this but I think their belief needs support, and not just "old" information. In most cases, the cops sit on a house and wait to see the person they are looking for to enter if their information is not really fresh.) I think this is going to cause the evidence to get suppressed. But, even if they could get into the home, how in the heck can they justify going into your pocket?! There is a Supreme Court case on "plain feel" that says that before a cop can get in your pocket when they pat you down for officer safety, they must be able to tell via the touch outside of the clothes that what they are feeling is contraband. No guesses, no supposing. The packaging will affect this issue. Anyway, hire a lawyer who is ready to do battle with the State and knows a bit about suppressing illegally obtained evidence. This case sounds like it as several avenues of potential problems for the State.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    Yes, if the police have a search warrant for that address.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/4/2013
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Police can search home for former tenant with an arrest warrant. The issue is: Do you have a motion to suppress the drugs found on your person based on the "staleness" of the warrant, or some other police misconduct? That question is hard to answer without more information.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Castleberry & Elison
    Castleberry & Elison | Peter Castleberry
    Illegal search questions are notoriously complicated and these facts raise a lot of issues. However, under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article I Section 9 of the Oregon Constitution, the general rule is that an arrest warrant carries with it the limited authority to enter a home when there is a reason to believe the suspect is within. Absent a reasonable basis to believe the suspect is inside a home, the police may not justify entry on the basis of an arrest warrant alone. If the police violated this rule, the subsequent search of your residence and your person was unlawful and all evidence derived (the drugs) should be suppressed. When something is "suppressed," that means they cannot use it as evidence against you in a trial.Of course, if you are charged with a drug crime and the State cannot produce the drugs or observations of the drugs at trial, it has no case against you. Here, it appears that the police did not have a reasonable basis to believe that the subject of the arrest warrant (John) was inside your home because (1) police officers had identified him at a different residence approximately 1.5 hours prior; (2) the suspect was not the current tenant and not on the current lease; (3) the police may have had access to John's current address through the probation office. This alone may be enough to invalidate the search. Even if a judge decided that the police had a reasonable belief that the suspect was in your home, the arrest warrant did not provide the police with the authority to search your person; it only provided the authority to arrest the suspect. The police will need to show some justification, other than the arrest warrant, for going through your pockets. Although the police are authorized to search your person and areas under your immediate control after they have validly placed you under arrest, this rule does not apply if the arrest is not valid in the first place. It does not appear that the police officers had probably cause to place you under arrest, so they cannot rely on that as a justification for searching your pockets. There are other potential justifications for searching your pockets which depend on the precise facts and circumstances of the situation. But based on the limited facts as you have related them, it sounds like there is a meritorious motion to suppress the drugs.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    You need to retain an experienced criminal attorney as soon as possible. Make sure you give him all the information and get a copy of the police report through a FOIA request soon to have your attorney review. He can get a copy of the warrant to review. There may be enough evidence to suppress the evidence against you, but an attorney with all the facts and information will be able to give you a more accurate response.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law
    Eric M. Mark, Attorney at Law | Eric Mark
    That is a horrible story. Under those facts, the police absolutely should not have done that. You need to hire an attorney to assert your rights and get those charges dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Attorney at Law
    Attorney at Law | Michael J. Kennedy
    An arrest warrant gives power to arrest, and to enter the place the arrestee lives; it does not give the power to enter a place other than where they have probable cause to believe the arrestee lives. And it does not give power to search, even the arrestee's premises, except for the lunging area of Chimel. If they knew from earlier that he lived elsewhere, then they had no right to come in on the arrest warrant, they had no right to pat you down unless you seemed armed and dangerous [and you don't sound like it], a proper pat-down can only be for weapons, and they could not have thought the dope was a weapon, and on and on. This sounds like a grossly bad search.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC
    Fitzpatrick, Mariano, & Santos, PC | Raymond J. Savoy
    Without exigent circumstances the police cannot enter your residence without a search warrant. The police can pat you down for weapons, and if drugs are found you can be arrested.
    Answer Applies to: Connecticut
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Laguzzi Law, P.C.
    Laguzzi Law, P.C. | Carina Laguzzi
    It sounds as if you have a great basis for a motion to suppress. Find an experienced criminal defense attorney to fight the charges against you. Give the attorney the information you have on "John" so that a private investigator can take a written statement from him, if necessary, for future use at trial.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    You should be able to get the case thrown out and sue the cops for violating your civil rights. In Washington, the police cannot use a "pretext" as a basis of a search. I hope the FBI gets wind of this because the cops were way out of line.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Eric J Schurman, Attorney at Law
    Eric J Schurman, Attorney at Law | Eric James Schurman
    I'd say there are a lot of problems with the entry/search of your home.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 7/11/2013
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann
    The Law Offices of Christopher J. McCann | Christopher J. McCann
    You should fight this for sure. A Motion to Quash and Traverse Search Warrant is required to challenge the false information likely contained in the search warrant's Affidavit of Probable Cause. Particularly if the information is dated and incorrect, the warrant is no good and the evidence should be suppressed and kept out of your case. Without evidence, they have no case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Law Office of John E. Gutbezahl LLC
    Law Office of John E. Gutbezahl LLC | John E Gutbezahl
    You have an excellent case. The police must have probable cause the person they are seeking at the residence being entered/searched. Furthermore, they must have an independent basis to search any residents present. Please contact me to discuss your case further. I have over 17 years of criminal law experience as a defense attorney and prosecutor and offer affordable rates.
    Answer Applies to: Oregon
    Replied: 7/7/2011
    Law Offices of Sean Logue
    Law Offices of Sean Logue | Sean Logue
    You may be able to get the search suppressed for the reasons you mentioned. I have experience handling drug cases.
    Answer Applies to: Pennsylvania
    Replied: 7/4/2013
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