Every year, police officers perform thousands of arrests, searches, and seizures across the nation. Each and every one of these actions must follow strict procedures to make them legal. Otherwise, police officers may violate essential laws protecting all citizens. Can the police arrest you in your home at any moment for any reason? The Atlantic City illegal search and seizure attorneys at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych invite you to keep reading as we discuss this critical matter.
When Can the Police Arrest You at Your Home?
The provisions contained in the Constitution protect every citizen of the United States. The Fourth Amendment of the Constitution protects all citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures. The Constitution makes it illegal for law enforcement to arrest people in their homes based on an assumption or because they may feel like arresting you. To arrest a person, a law enforcement officer will need to have special permission to enter your home and perform an arrest. In other words, one of the only ways an officer can enter your home and perform an arrest is by obtaining a search warrant or arrest warrant. If a police officer has a warrant against you, they can enter your home and put you under arrest.
There is an additional requirement set forth by law to allow law enforcement to enter your home. Even with a warrant in their hand, a police officer has to announce him- or herself before entering. If the homeowner does not respond or open the door within a reasonable time, the police can force the entry.
The aforementioned scenario constitutes the general rule for a lawful arrest in your home. However, there are exceptional circumstances that make it possible for law enforcement to enter your property without a warrant. An exception to the warrant requirements can occur when a police officer has reason to believe a person may be in imminent danger, when there’s an imminent threat to public safety, or when there is a high probability that evidence may be lost.
Furthermore, if the police find evidence in connection with an arrest, they will not need a search warrant to collect that evidence. For instance, if you are put under arrest for a weapons crime, they can search you and your property – such as your vehicle – for more weapons. Another exception is the plain view doctrine. Under the plain view doctrine, a police officer can search your home or your car if the evidence is in plain sight. For instance, if the police see marijuana just inside your window, they can enter your home.
What Happens If the Police Enter Your Home Without a Warrant?
As mentioned before, the Constitution protects every citizen against illegal searches and seizures. If a police officer performs a search or seizure against you without a warrant, they would be breaking the law and violating your rights as an American citizen. Police officers may have the intention of seizing an alleged illegal substance or object, but they must do so legally. This means everything they find as a result of an unlawful search and seizure will be inadmissible in a court of law.
This is what is known as the “exclusionary rule.” Under this rule, the prosecutor cannot use illegally obtained evidence against a defendant in a court of law. Furthermore, any other evidence stemming from the illegally obtained evidence will also be inadmissible following a principle known as the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine.
If the police enter your home illegally and obtain evidence without following the mandate of the law, you can fight the evidence intended to be used against you. However, this does not mean that you will be off the hook entirely. Many times, the police have additional evidence that may be admissible, which can lead to your conviction. While this may be the case in some circumstances, fighting illegally obtained evidence can put you in a more favorable position. It is in your best interest to be represented by an experienced and skilled Atlantic City criminal defense lawyer who can guide you while aggressively fighting the charges against you.
Atlantic City Criminal Defense Attorney Offering Free Consultations
Facing a criminal accusation and going through New Jersey’s criminal justice system can be extremely challenging, especially if you have never been involved in such a process. A criminal conviction can cause a number of problems that can last forever, but you do not have to face this situation alone. The New Jersey criminal defense lawyers at the Law Offices of John J. Zarych can help. We dedicate our efforts to aggressively fighting for your rights as a U.S. citizen and defending your innocence in a court of law. If you or a loved one is facing criminal charges following an illegal search and seizure, there is no time to waste. To speak with a professional about your case, in a free, private consultation, call our law offices today at (609) 616-4956.