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Can Police Conduct Searches Without Search Warrants in Florida?


Through the Fourth Amendment, the constitution protects Americans from any searches and seizures deemed unreasonable under the law. When determining whether a search is reasonable, two factors are taken into consideration. These factors are;

  1. The intrusion of a person’s Fourth Amendment’s rights
  2. Genuine government interests.

In Florida, police officers can only conduct searches without warrants in limited circumstances. Therefore, in most cases, police cannot perform a warrantless search.

Generally, in most cases, before police can perform a search, they need to obtain a search warrant. So, what exactly is a search warrant?

Understanding the Meaning of a Search Warrant

A search warrant is an order from a judge that grants law enforcement officers the right to search a specific location when they have probable cause to do so. A judge indicates the exact objects police will search for and what time they will conduct the search in the search warrant.

Before obtaining a warrant from a judge, police need to prove that they have probable cause to search a specific location. Failure to do so could make the judge refuse to give them a warrant.

Additionally, a search warrant allows police to search only a specified location, meaning that it is generally unlawful for police to search and seize objects in an area other than the one indicated in the legal order. For instance, the police might obtain a warrant allowing them to search a person’s car. If the same police decide to search the person’s backyard, then they will have gone against the law, unless in an exempted situation.

When Can Police Perform Searches Without Warrants?

While law enforcement officers require a warrant to perform a search, there are exemptions to the rule. Therefore, a warrantless search is not always an illegal search. Below are three circumstances in which a search warrant is not mandatory;

  1. When police receive consent – If, for example, a police officer knocks on your door and asks to search your house, the first thing you need to ask them is if they have a warrant. If they do not have one, they can either walk away or ask you for your consent. Once you give your consent, a warrantless search becomes legal. Unfortunately, many times people give their consent to the police without understanding the consequences of their actions.
  2. If items are in plain view, police can conduct a warrantless search. As long as an officer has the legal right to be in that particular location at that specific time, they can perform a warrantless search and seize the material. For instance, police might be allowed into a house after receiving a battery call. In a situation where they see marijuana once they are let into the house, they have the legal right to search and seize.
  3. In emergencies, such as instances where the process of obtaining a search warrant would compromise public safety, police can conduct warrantless searches.

Let Joyce A. Julian, P.A. Help You Today

Do you believe that you or someone you know is a victim of an unlawful, unwarranted search? If you do and need help with your case, contact the office of Joyce A. Julian, P.A. today. Receive assistance from a skilled Fort Lauderdale criminal attorney by dialing 954-467-6656.






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