Former Prosecutor Serving Minnesota And Wisconsin Since 1992

  1. Home
  2.  » 
  3. Assault And Violent Crimes
  4.  » Why you need to know about exceptions to the warrant requirement

Why you need to know about exceptions to the warrant requirement

On Behalf of | Jul 17, 2023 | Assault And Violent Crimes, Drug Crimes, White Collar Crimes

The way your criminal investigation plays out will dictate whether you’re charged with a criminal offense and ultimately convicted. Therefore, your defense starts sooner than you might think. That’s why you need to be careful about your interactions with the police and ensure that you’re not making it easier for them to gather incriminating evidence against you.

Yet, all too often individuals who are under investigation for drug crimes make mistakes that jeopardize their future. One of the biggest is that they consent to a search of their car or their home. You don’t have to give consent, and doing so is rarely in your best interest.

The police are supposed to have probable cause before they can obtain a warrant, which is a relatively high burden to clear. That said, there are many exceptions to the warrant requirement that the police will try to utilize to avoid having to take time to secure a formal warrant from the court.

Exceptions to the warrant requirement

Although the exceptions to the warrant requirement are aimed at giving law enforcement officers flexibility in ever-changing circumstances, their misapplication can lead to a violation of your rights. That’s why you should be aware of the exception that the police rely upon in your drug case to see if you can challenge its use and thereby suppress damaging evidence. Here are some of the exceptions that you should be on the lookout for:

  • Vehicle searches: There are certain situations where the police might be able to search your car without having a warrant. For example, the police can search your vehicle if they have probable cause to believe that the vehicle contains contraband or other evidence of criminal wrongdoing. So, the law enforcement officer should be able to articulate why they believe the car in question contains evidence of illegal activity. The police might also be able to search your vehicle if your car is impounded. They guise this search as being conducted for purposes of inventorying the items within the vehicle.
  • Plain view doctrine: Officers are allowed to seize items indicative of illegal activity so long as those items are in plain sight and the officer is in a place where they are allowed to be. Therefore, an officer might be able to enter your car to seize illegal drugs if they’re just sitting on the seat and the officer spots them while outside the vehicle.
  • Search incident to arrest: If you’re placed under arrest for criminal wrongdoing, then law enforcement officers can search you and the areas near you to ensure safety and preserve evidence. However, for this exception to be properly utilized, your arrest must be conducted lawfully.
  • Exigent circumstances: If there’s an emergency, then law enforcement officers are allowed to enter a home or a vehicle to ensure public safety or to preserve evidence that is in immediate jeopardy of being destroyed. What rises to the level of exigent circumstances can thus be subjected to a lot of interpretation.

Can you fight to suppress evidence in your case?

If the police misuse a warrant exception, then your rights have been violated. As a result, you might be able to suppress the evidence that was collected and that prosecutors plan to use against you. This can make a huge difference in your case.

Therefore, even if the evidence seems insurmountable in your drug case, you should thoroughly analyze the facts of your situation to see what defense arguments you can make. Perhaps then you can beat the charges levied against you and protect your future to the fullest extent. Even if you can’t, you might have arguments that are strong enough to convince the prosecution to give you a favorable plea deal.