The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution covers all entries into homes and any other governmental searches. In other words, this amendment provides all U.S. citizens the right to be secure in their bodies and homes against unreasonable search and seizure, and this right cannot be violated without a warrant based upon probable cause.
But with all constitutional laws and provisions, however, the Fourth Amendment contains a few exceptions to the freedom against unreasonable search and seizure and to the warrant requirement.
The following are the four main circumstances in which a warrant is not required for police to search your house:
- Consent – If the individual who is in control of the property provides consent to the search without being tricked or coerced into doing so, a search without a warrant is considered valid. Keep I mind, law enforcement does not have to inform you that you have the right to refuse a search, but you do.
- Plain view – If a police officer already has the right to be on your property and sees evidence of a crime or contraband that is visible to the eye, that object may be lawfully seized and used as evidence.
- Search incident to arrest – If you are being arrested in your home, law enforcement may search for weapons or other accomplices to protect their own safety, or they may otherwise search to prevent the destruction of evidence.
- Exigent Circumstances – This exception refers to emergency situations where the process of getting a valid search warrant could jeopardize public safety or could result in a loss of evidence.