If you are arrested and charged with a crime, the prosecution will need to prove your guilt by presenting evidence. Here is what you should know about evidence obtained without a search warrant.
As a citizen of the United States, you have the right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure, as provided by the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. This means that police cannot search you unless certain circumstances apply. Most of the time, police need to have a search warrant in order for a search to be lawful. This requirement does not change if the police receive an anonymous tip.
Criteria for Getting a Search Warrant
In order to breach someone’s right to privacy and search them, police are generally required to obtain a search warrant. To obtain a search warrant, police must show a court that they have probable cause to believe that a search is justified (because it is reasonably likely based on the evidence that the person in question has committed a crime). In order to support a claim of probable cause, police officers will need to submit sworn affidavits, as well as a list of the items that they plan to seize and a description of the place to be searched.
In most cases, getting an anonymous tip about a crime will not give the police cause to search a person without a warrant; the tip could, however, be used to secure the warrant.
Exceptions to the Requirement for a Warrant
There are some cases in which the requirement for police to have a warrant does not apply. One circumstance in which this applies is in the event of an emergency – if taking the time to obtain a warrant would jeopardize public safety or result in lost evidence, police are generally not required to receive a warrant prior to conducting a search. An officer is also allowed to conduct a search if an illicit item, such as drugs, are “in plain view.” What is more, in some cases, the Fourth Amendment protection may not even exist. For example, there may be a lack of a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Of course, police can also conduct a search if the person to be searched/the owner of the property to be searched provides police with the right to do so.
If evidence is illegally obtained (i.e. in violation of the Fourth Amendment), it cannot be used against a defendant.
Learn More About Search, Seizure, and Criminal Charges in Texas
No matter how good an anonymous tip is, in most cases, a cop cannot conduct a search without receiving a warrant first. If you have been searched and you believe that the search was a violation of your Constitutional rights, it is important that you contact an attorney, especially if evidence from the search will be used against you.
At the law office of Granger & Mueller PC, our experienced Texas criminal defense lawyers understand what you are going through and how confusing it may be to understand your rights and options. Call us today or send us a message to learn how we can help.