In the United States, we are generally entitled to privacy in our own homes and rented apartments. If a police officer wants to enter a private residence to search for evidence of a drug crime, they generally must have a warrant. This is because the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects people from unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement. The fourth amendment applies to any area where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., your house or your purse).
Does law enforcement always need a warrant?
There are exceptions to the warrant requirements that allow law enforcement to search your home and seize evidence without a warrant. Some of these exceptions include:
- Conducting a search with consent from the homeowner.
- Conducting a search with probable cause or a reasonable belief based on the totality of the circumstances that a crime has been committed, and that evidence of the crime may be found in the home.
- Seizing evidence of a crime that is in plain view.
- Entering a private home while in hot pursuit of a suspect.
What happens if an officer illegally searches my property?
Any evidence of a drug crime in New York that is obtained from an illegal search of your home may not be used against you in court. Prosecutors will have to use other evidence to try to prove the drug charges against you.
A criminal defense attorney can help determine whether your home was searched illegally and if it was, they can file a motion to suppress the evidence obtained during that illegal search.