Everyone has Constitutional rights, even when they’re being arrested, investigated for criminal activity, and tried. The Fourth Amendment protects U.S. citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. That means law enforcement can’t search your home, vehicle, or person and remove evidence without a valid search warrant.
Unfortunately, many people don’t understand their rights while they’re dealing with the police. Some worry that denying an officer access to their home could lead to an arrest. Others think it might look like they’re hiding something.
Sometimes, law enforcement takes advantage of the general public’s lack of knowledge regarding the Fourth Amendment. An officer might force their way into someone’s home or intimidate the owner into letting them inside despite not having a warrant or reasonable cause for a search.
Knowing your rights is vital. You can assert your rights at any time without criminal penalties. You should hire a criminal defense attorney if you believe your rights were violated by law enforcement.
Below are the circumstances that allow police offers to enter someone’s home in Virginia.
The Owner Invites Them Inside
Law enforcement can enter someone’s home if they ask and the owner allows it. Officers often act like the homeowner doesn’t have a say in the matter. Since many people don’t understand their rights in this type of situation, letting the officer inside might seem like the right decision.
Unfortunately, once the police gain entry to your home, anything they see could be grounds for a search. For example, if they suspect you of committing a drug crime and see paraphernalia in the foyer, it could give them a valid reason to search the rest of your house.
There Is a Valid Search Warrant
The judge might issue a search warrant of someone’s property if the police suspect that person committed a crime. The warrant can indicate where law enforcement can search for evidence, such as the inside of the home, exterior of the property, and motor vehicles on the property.
You have a legal obligation to allow officers to conduct their search without interfering. However, you can ask to look at the warrant first to ensure it is valid and understand what the search entails.
A Pursuit Is in Progress
Law enforcement can enter your home if they’re chasing someone who committed a crime. If that person enters your home or yard, officers have a right to search for them.
They don’t need a warrant to be on your property if they see a suspect fleeing in your direction. You are not allowed to impede their search or demand that they leave.
A Crime Is in Progress
Officers can enter someone’s private property if they think a crime is in progress. They might hear someone screaming or see the offense occur while driving by your home. They have a right to take a look around for evidence of criminal activity.
At Whitestone Young, PC, we believe in protecting the rights of anyone arrested or charged with a crime in Virginia. Even if an officer arrests you for a crime, they have an obligation to follow the law while searching your property, transporting you to the station, and questioning you about the offense.
We have defended clients in criminal cases for over 40 years. You should not face criminal legal proceedings alone. When you hire us, we will create an effective defense strategy to try to get the charges dropped or reduced.
If you believe law enforcement violated your rights, call us for a free consultation at 703-591-0200. You can speak to one of our Fairfax criminal defense lawyers to learn about your legal options and what we can do for you.