When Are Police Allowed to Search Me?

Police Searches in Texas

In certain circumstances in Texas, police officers may be allowed to conduct searches of private citizens. This can include searches of a person’s belongings, their house, or their vehicle. Although these searches are relatively common, they can only occur under very specific circumstances according to the law. Searches that occur outside the bounds of these specific rules may be considered illegal.

Usually, conducting a police search must be conducted after a warrant has been issued. However, there are certain types of searches that may occur without a warrant. Citizens who understand the laws regarding police searches will be better prepared when they face these kinds of situations in their own lives.

Searches Without Warrants

In certain cases, police officers can conduct limited searches without first obtaining a warrant. These circumstances usually occur when a police officer is in the middle of investigating a possible offense. Some circumstances that may allow a police officer to conduct a search without a warrant can include:

  • A search for which a suspect has given consent
  • A search that is conducted to protect the officer’s safety
  • A search that is done to find evidence of a crime for which the suspect has been arrested
  • A search for which the officer has probable cause

Probable cause is an important factor in many police searches. For example, if a police officer has a reasonable belief that a person has engaged or will soon engage in criminal activity, they may be able to claim probable cause as a reason to search a suspect.

Some examples of a valid search without a warrant include:

  • Searching a driver arrested on suspicion of DWI
  • A person who is observed selling drugs on the street
  • A person who is fleeing the scene after committing a crime
Searches With Warrants

For many types of police warrants, a search warrant will usually be required. A police officer can request a warrant if they have a reasonable belief that a suspect will soon commit a crime or has already engaged in a crime.

For example, if police officers notice that several convicted drug users and dealers have been obtaining drugs from a certain house, the police department may issue a warrant to investigate that dwelling. This search warrant will allow the officers to stake out and search the house in order to find evidence related to the initial consequences. Any evidence gained during one of these searches can be considered admissible as evidence in a court of law.

Legal Searches

In general, a police officer is allowed to search a person if they have a reasonable belief that they are in danger or if they are in the midst of investigating a suspect. Although every situation is different, warrants are usually granted after police officers successfully demonstrate their suspicion of a particular case or individual.

These warrants give officers the ability to collect evidence and ask questions that may later be used as valid court evidence.

Legal Defenses

Many defense attorneys can help advise their clients as to whether or not they have been searched legally or illegally. Any evidence gathered during an illegal search may be considered legally inadmissible in a court of law. Even incriminating evidence must be thrown out if is collected improperly or under false pretenses.

In some cases, improperly gathered evidence may lead to a mistrial or dropped charges. For example, if the only evidence in a case is the testimony of alleged victims and a warrant was handled improperly, a defendant may have a better chance of facing those charges. Consulting with a defense attorney is the best way to explore these options.

Do you believe that you have been illegally searched by law enforcement? It’s important that these concerns are pursued promptly. Contact attorney Matthew Sharp to get the help you need. Contact him today at (713) 868-6100.