The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution states “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” Because of the rights found in the Fourth Amendment, a law enforcement officer is generally required to obtain a search warrant before he or she has the right to enter and search your home. If the police wish to search your home it is important that you understand your rights and obligations.

Although our rights under the Fourth Amendment have slowly eroded since the Constitution was created, your right to be secure in your home remains strong. What this means, in practical terms, is that under most circumstances the police need a valid search warrant to be able to enter and search your home without your consent.

To obtain a search warrant in Florida a law enforcement officer must request one from a judge or magistrate. The request must include an affidavit, sworn to by the officer, which includes information that provides the basis for probable cause for the search warrant. In other words, the judge must be convinced that there is a high probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found at the property to be searched. Furthermore, the search warrant must specify what the police are allowed to search for and must describe the property to be searched. If a search warrant is issued by a judge or magistrate the police may execute the search warrant at any time. As a general rule the police can only search for items indicated in the warrant. For example, if the warrant allows the police to search for stolen televisions they cannot open drawers in a bathroom cabinet where a TV would not fit.

While a warrant is usually required to search your home there are a few important exceptions to the warrant requirement. The most commonly used exception is consent. People consent to a search far more often than they should. If you consent to a search you significantly limit your attorney’s ability to challenge the search down the road if incriminating evidence is uncovered. Law enforcement officers will frequently try to convince a resident to consent if a search warrant has yet to be obtained. Always refuse to consent and contact an experienced Florida criminal defense attorney immediately.

Call the the law offices of Powers Sellers and Finkelstein PLC at 727-531-2926 and schedule your free consultation.