Can a home be searched without a search warrant? 58 Answers as of July 08, 2013

I was held at gunpoint and asked to go on the ground even if I was cooperating with the police.

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Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC
Cornish, Crowley, Rockafellow, & Sartz, PLLC | Jacob Peter Sartz IV
It depends on the circumstances. You should retain a lawyer to assist you with this matter if you are charged with a criminal offense. If you cannot afford a lawyer, the court may appoint you a lawyer payable at the public's expense. If there were any issues with the search, a timely, thoroughly drafted, well researched, and effectively argued motion to suppress could result in a court-order barring the admission of the evidence taken from the search. However, these motions may be risky. They should only be filed after a thorough review of all the potential facts and as part of a coherent trial strategy.
Answer Applies to: Michigan
Replied: 1/7/2012
Burdon and Merlitti
Burdon and Merlitti | Adam Van Ho
It depends on the specific facts of the search. If the police were attempting to arrest an individual, or if there was an emergency (i.e. an individual fleeing into the house), then they can search the house. I suggest you speak to an attorney about the specific facts of your case to determine if the police violated your constitutional rights.
Answer Applies to: Ohio
Replied: 1/3/2012
Robert Valles and Associates P.C.
Robert Valles and Associates P.C. | Robert Valles Jr.
Strange circumstances for a search. Depends on officers reasons for responding to the scene.
Answer Applies to: Texas
Replied: 12/27/2011
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law
Gregory Casale Attorney at Law | Gregory Casale
That is far too simple a question for the situation that appears to be going on. Why did the police have a gun on you? Was there probable cause to go into the house? Could the police claim a wellness check? Was it a search incident to an arrest? The basic premise is that to search you, your car or your house, the police must have a warrant or permission. There are exceptions to that rule such as exigent circumstances, permission, etc. I would really have to evaluate all the facts, charges and statements before I could give you a good answer to that question. It is really the question for your defense lawyer to be asking the court. Hire a good lawyer. If there was a gun out you definitely need a lawyer.
Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
Replied: 12/27/2011
Law Office of Phillip Weiser
Law Office of Phillip Weiser | Phillip L. Weiser
Only if the police receive consent to search or are searching pursuant to a valid exception to the warrant can they search without a warrant.
Answer Applies to: Kansas
Replied: 12/27/2011
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law
    Mark Thiessen, Attorney at Law | Mark Thiessen
    There are exceptions to the warrant requirement and they are very fact specific.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/8/2013
    Law Office of Richard Williams
    Law Office of Richard Williams | Richard Williams
    There are exceptions to a requirement for a search warrant for the search of premises. The police like to use the excuse of exigent circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Alabama
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC
    Law Offices of Martina A. Vigil, PC | Martina A. Vigil
    There are only a few exceptions to the warrant requirement. These exceptions include circumstances such as fear of losing important evidence if the time is taken to obtain a search warrant, consent, or hot pursuit. If these exceptions do not apply to your situation, your criminal charges could be dismissed.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Offices of William W. Burns | William W. Burns
    A home can be searched without a search warrant if the person is on probation or parole and there are search conditions. Police can have a cursory search for weapons and other persons during an arrest. Otherwise, the police should have warrant.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson
    Law Office of Kathryn L. Hudson | Kathryn L. Hudson
    Absent exigent (emergency) circumstances no search may be conducted of a dwelling without a search warrant that cites with particularity the place to be searched and the things to be seized. If there was no emergency you may have a civil action against the police department.
    Answer Applies to: Arkansas
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C.
    Reeves Law Firm, P.C. | Roy L. Reeves
    It depends, was there a warrant for search or arrest? Was there exigent circumstances? Etc.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 7/5/2013
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum
    Law Office of Edward J. Blum | Edward J. Blum
    It depends on whether there was exigent circumstances. That is whether there was a good reason like chasing a defendant or protecting from the destruction of evidence. If not, it was an illegal search.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C.
    Craig W. Elhart, P.C. | Craig Elhart
    Without either a search warrant or proper permission, a search of a home cannot be conducted under "normal" circumstances. You should have an attorney review this matter.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Office of Jared Altman
    Law Office of Jared Altman | Jared Altman
    Not unless it's an emergency or pursuit.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Offices of John Carney
    Law Offices of John Carney | John Carney
    The police need a search warrant or an arrest warrant before they can search a home or apartment. They can enter a home under the Emergency Doctrine if they are chasing a felon or if there is a fire or other emergency. They do not have to show you the warrant, just have one that properly describes the property to be searched. If they do not follow the rules and procedures your attorney can run a hearing to try to have the evidence suppressed.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    H. Scott Basham, Attorney at Law, P.C. | H. Scott Basham
    Sometimes officers do not need a warrant in order to conduct a search. This is a very complex area of law and I would need more information before I could give a specific answer.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates
    Law Offices of George Woodworth & Associates | George Woodworth
    Yes, if someone who lives there gives consent for the search, or if someone on probation or parole lives there. Sometimes, the police will say that there's an emergency situation like someone inside is about to destroy evidence of a crime, and they need to enter immediately to prevent this. Police will also threaten to take children from residents to get them to give "consent" to search.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/22/2011
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC
    Law Offices of Louis M. Leibowitz, LLC | Louis Leibowitz
    There are some narrow exceptions to the warrant requirement for searches of a home. For example, to catch a fleeing felon. Without more information it is impossible to tell whether the police acted lawfully or not. Police also may tell a different version of events in court than your version. Sounds like you should retain a lawyer to defend your rights.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC
    The McDonnell Law Firm, PLLC | Patrick J. McDonnell
    There are several ways a home can be searched without a search warrant. The most common is by consent of the person owning the property or who appears to the police to exercise right and control over the premises. A limited search can also be performed for officer safety or incident to arrest while inside the premises. There may also be exigent circumstances to justify a limited search.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Pascher Law Firm
    Pascher Law Firm | Sonia Pascher
    The basic answer is no. You are protected from search and seizure by the government if they have no warrant. However, there are exceptions to the warrant requirement and more information is needed to know if the government fell within one of those exceptions that would allow a warrantless search.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang
    Law Office of Tracey S. Sang | Tracey Sang
    There are many exceptions to the warrant requirement for a search; most involve urgency that evidence will be lost if the time is taken to obtain a warrant. The police often hold people at gunpoint during a search so that they do not have to worry about safety. Warrantless searches and police brutality can certainly be challenged but they are difficult motions to win.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law
    Michael Maltby, Attorney at Law | Michael Maltby
    Normally you need a warrant to search a home. But there are some exceptions to the warrant requirement like: exigent circumstances (emergency) and to preserve evididence. It just depends on the facts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law
    Jules N. Fiani, Attorney at Law | Jules Fiani
    No.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 5/30/2013
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law
    Thomas J. Tomko Attorney At law | Thomas J. Tomko
    If a home is improperly searched without a warrant, the remedy may be suppression of any evidence discovered as a result In general, a warrant is needed to search a home. Alternatively, permission can be given. Another way would be to be chasing a fleeing felon or exigent circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Adesina Law Office, P.C.
    Adesina Law Office, P.C. | Adebayo Adesina
    No, unless it was pursuant to the investigation of an imminent crime or crime in progress. Law enforcement always need a warrant to conduct a search. You need a good lawyer on you side. Note, there are other exceptions but I will have to know more facts to determine if the circumstances fit within such exceptions. If not, your lawyer can file a Motion to suppress the evidence discovered as a result of the illegal search.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Ascheman & Smith | Landon Ascheman
    There are some situations where a home can be searched without a search warrant. However, these situations are very limited, and the State has to show that they had the right to do what they did. The officers also have the authority to order you down on the ground in some situations. Again, the State needs to show that what they did was correct. There are a lot of facts and information that is needed to give you a good answer to your question.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S.
    Freeborn Law Offices, P.S. | Steve Freeborn
    In certain instances, yes. Example: if an officer sees a person commit a serious level crime and then while in pursuit, follows the person into the home, then, yes, they can search,, but the scope of the search may be limited. Another example: if someone invites the police into the home and gives them permission. I don't know enough about the facts of your case to know whether or not the search was legal. You should probably retain the services of an attorney who can help you sort through the facts.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law office of Robert D. Scott | Robert Scott
    No, not legally.
    Answer Applies to: Maryland
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law
    Hammerschmidt Broughton Law | Mark A. Broughton
    Generally, no. But if the police are in "hot pursuit" of a felony suspect they can search for him inside of a residence without a warrant. Sounds to me as if that is what was happening here. When they do a search of a residence they will always clear the house of persons inside and make sure it is safe for them, with or without a warrant. You don't say if you or anyone else was arrested, or if there was any evidence seized.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    The Law Office of Harry E. Hudson, Jr. | Harry E. Hudson, Jr.
    Depending on the exact circumstances, yes. Generlly no. Need exception. Probation search [consent], emergency.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Palumbo and Kosofsky
    Palumbo and Kosofsky | Michael Palumbo
    Sometimes the police do not need a warrant
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer
    Cynthia Henley, Lawyer | Cynthia Henley
    In very limited circumstances can a home be searched without a warrant. (Exigent circumstances - they believe that someone is hurt or needs assistance inside; "wingspan" search upon arrest of someone; etc.) Being held at gun point and told to go to the ground have no relevance with cooperation.
    Answer Applies to: Texas
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Vargas Law Office LLC | Ronnie Ismael Vargas
    Under certain circumstances the police may conduct warrantless searches.
    Answer Applies to: Wisconsin
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Rizio & Nelson
    Rizio & Nelson | John W. Bussman
    There are lots of exceptions to the search warrant requirement, but I have no idea whether or not they apply here.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 7/2/2013
    Law Office of Richard Southard
    Law Office of Richard Southard | Richard C Southard
    Typically a home cannot searched without a warrant unless someone with the authority to do so consents or if there is some emergency situation, i.e. destruction of evidence, someone possibly injured, a loaded gun, hot pursuit of a suspect. There may be a limit as to what can be searched depending on the situation.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin
    Law Office of Daniel K Martin | Daniel K Martin
    The general rule is that the warrantless search of a home is illegal. There are a few exceptions that include fleeing felon (A person running from the cops runs into your house), exigent circumstances (Very real possibility that evidence will be destroyed) or plain view. (This is when an officer observes something from a place where he has the right to be and whatever he sees provides probable cause to enter.)
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Offices of Steven R. Hunter | Steven Hunter
    There are three basic circumstances under which the police can legally search your home. They are consent of a resident, a search warrant, or exigency circumstances. In other words, if you did not agree to the search, the police had no warrant, and there was no emergency like chasing a suspect into the home, the the search was illegal.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Goolsby Law Office
    Goolsby Law Office | Richard Goolsby
    While there are some exceptions to the general rule that, under the Fourth Amendment, the police should, generally, have a search warrant to search a home, we recommend you retain a criminal lawyer asap to discuss all your rights and options.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Rhoades & Miller, LLP
    Rhoades & Miller, LLP | M. Jason Rhoades
    The answer depends on whether there were "exigent circumstances" that made it unreasonable to require a warrant before the search. Since this question cannot be adequately answered without a thorough understanding of all the facts and circumstances, you really need to engage an attorney to analyze the situation.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Lawrence Lewis
    Lawrence Lewis | Lawrence Lewis, PC
    Yes, a home can be searched without a search warrant: (1) there is an arrest warrant or violation of probation warrant; (2) the police are in hot pursuit of someone; and/or (3) there are exigent circumstances.
    Answer Applies to: Georgia
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    AyerHoffman, LLP
    AyerHoffman, LLP | David C. Ayer
    Police may search a home without a warrant if they have probable cause there exists within the home evidence of a crime. It is extreme for a police officer to draw a weapon on a witness, but may be justified by the circumstances surrounding the action.
    Answer Applies to: Massachusetts
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Grant & Grant
    Grant & Grant | Richard L. Grant, Esq.
    It is also depends whether consent was given to the police or if exigent circumstances, such a commission of a crime in progress or life threaten or potential harm to occur, existed to not require a search warrant. I would highly recommend that your hire an experienced criminal defense attorney or request a Public Defender if you are charged with a crime. A criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in the court where your case will be heard can make a difference in the outcome of your case.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh
    Law Office of Jeff Yeh | Jeff Yeh
    No unless you consented (which includes not opposing, which equals implied consent).
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Aaron Black Law
    Aaron Black Law | Aaron Black
    It is presumably illegal to search a home without a warrant. However, there are exceptions for everything. Some such exceptions would be to give a quick look around for other people to make sure the police are safe. Other exceptions would be for certain exegent circumstances. I am guessing you or someone in the house did not give the police permission? There are many factors that go into a search.
    Answer Applies to: Arizona
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Harden Law Offices
    Harden Law Offices | Leonard D. Harden
    Yes home may legally be searched in certain situations: consent, emergency, pursuit of a felon. The underlying facts will really decide legality.
    Answer Applies to: New Hampshire
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law
    Gary Moore, Attorney at Law | Gary Moore
    Search a home requires a search warrant, except for certain exceptional circumstances. The expectation of privacy is greater in the home than in a car.
    Answer Applies to: New Jersey
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Andersen Law PLLC
    Andersen Law PLLC | Craig Andersen
    What kind of answer do you expect with those scant details? There are exceptions to the warrant requirement. Law enforcement is being militarized to what end I don't know. If you feel your rights were subverted, talk to a civil rights attorney. If you were charged, talk to a defense attorney.
    Answer Applies to: Washington
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton
    The Law Office of Cindy Barton | Cindy Barton
    There are a couple of exceptions to the search warrant requirements. One is if a crime is in plain sight. For example if they can see something in the home from an open door or a window that can be seen to be a violation of the law. The other is if someone runs into a home while the police are in pursuit. The facts you gave don't explain much of the circumstances, but if none of the normal exceptions to the search warrant doctrines are claimed you may need your attorney to file a motion to suppress evidence that was obtained in violation of warrant and privacy expectations.
    Answer Applies to: Utah
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Raiser & Kenniff, PC
    Raiser & Kenniff, PC | Steve Raiser
    If you consented to a search no search warrant is needed. However, if your consent was coerced it will not be found to be a legal search.
    Answer Applies to: New York
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly
    Law Office of Brendan M. Kelly | Brendan M. Kelly
    Cops cannot search without a warrant or consent. They may be able to check in the area of an arrest but the rest is illegal.
    Answer Applies to: Nebraska
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Office of Christopher G Humphrey PC | Christopher G Humphrey
    No, unless there are 'exigent circumstances' such as a fugitive ran from the cops into your house, or simething else that made getting a warrant at that exact moment unreasonable. they may search or enter a home wothout a warrant to save a life or prevent harm to another. they may enter to prevent the destruction of evidence.
    Answer Applies to: Wyoming
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Gutin and Wolverton
    Gutin and Wolverton | Harley Gutin
    No. The officers making an arrest without a warrant can search the immediate surrounding areas for officer safety but cannot go through the rest of the house without your permission or a warrant.
    Answer Applies to: Florida
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Office of Joe Dane
    Law Office of Joe Dane | Joe Dane
    Yes, it can be under certain conditions. A search with a warrant is presumed to be a good search, so the burden is on the defense to challenge the warrant. It's the opposite with a warrantless search. The police and prosecution must prove the reasonableness of the search under one of the recognized categories that allow warrantless searches. Search issues are always fact-dependent though, so if you change one fact, it could change the analysis. You're going to have to sit down with your attorney to discuss the details and the allegations in the police report to see if a motion to suppress any evidence obtained is appropriate.
    Answer Applies to: California
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Austin Legal Services, PLC
    Austin Legal Services, PLC | Jared Austin
    A home can be searched without a warrant if a valid exception to the warrant requirement applies. It is unclear whether or not that is the case from your question since much more detail would be needed. Have a criminal attorney carefully review the reports to determine if there was a Fourth Amendment violation or not.
    Answer Applies to: Michigan
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Beaulier Law Office
    Beaulier Law Office | Maury Beaulier
    To determine if a search is valid requires a review of all of the circumstances surrounding the search. Challenging the validity of a search may often result in the suppression of evidence resulting from the search. Whether or not a search is valid, or whether arguments exist that it was a violation of the fourteenth amendment and State constitutional protections requires a full review of the facts of the case. Accordingly, you would be wise to hire an experienced criminal defense lawyer. As a general rule, law enforcement may not make a search without a valid warrant supported by probable cause. There are, however, numerous warrant exceptions including cases where contraband is in plain sight, where the search is related to officer safety, or where exigent circumstances exist supported by additional probable case.
    Answer Applies to: Minnesota
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Law Offices of Mitch Furman | Mitch Furman
    Absent exigent circumstances, the police need a search warrant to search your home. If they don't have a warrant and search your house and find illegal contraband or any other items the State wants to use as evidence against you. Your attorney can argue to the court that, those illegally seized items should be suppressed.
    Answer Applies to: Illinois
    Replied: 12/21/2011
    Bloom Legal, LLC
    Bloom Legal, LLC | Seth J. Bloom
    The short answer is that if your door was closed and the police came in without a search warrant they may have conducted an illegal search. It is impossible to say definitively without more information though. If you are seeking legal representation in this matter in Louisiana, I invite you to contact my firm at the information on this page for a free case evaluation.
    Answer Applies to: Louisiana
    Replied: 12/21/2011
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