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When can an officer search without a search warrant?

All citizens, whether residing in Louisiana or elsewhere, are protected by the U.S. Constitution's Fourth Amendment against unreasonable searches and seizures. Many individuals know this generally means a police officer must have a warrant to search for or seize evidence. This is not always the case, however.

The Supreme Court has continuously attempted to balance the reality of what daily police work entails and the privacy interests of the public. This has resulted in a standard that allows officers to search, seize or arrest without a warrant as long as the conduct is reasonable under the circumstances. A criminal defense team may help determine whether a search was indeed reasonable or not.

One situation that doesn't require a warrant is when the arrest occurs in a public place. Officers do not need a warrant to make a felony arrest in public places when there is probable cause that the suspect committed the crime.

During a lawful arrest, police do not need to obtain a warrant to search a suspect's person, clothing or things within the person's area of immediate reach when a lawful arrest has been made.

Cars present certain exceptions to the warrant requirement, as well. A vehicle may be stopped when an officer can articulate a reasonable suspicion that a violation of traffic law has occurred. The officer may then search a vehicle's interior, including the glove compartment, but cannot venture into the trunk without probable cause to believe it contains evidence of criminal activity.

Emergency situations may allow for a warrantless search. Surrounding circumstances must point to a true emergency, however, such as screaming or gunfire from inside a building.

Every defendant deserves to retain certain rights when faced with a criminal charge. A solid defense can help guarantee the proper procedures have been followed. Louisiana criminal defense attorneys help the accused by investigating the circumstances of their arrest and finding evidence of police wrongdoing.

Source: Findlaw, "The Fourth Amendment 'Reasonableness' Requirement," accessed Aug. 17, 2014

Source: Findlaw, "The Fourth Amendment 'Reasonableness' Requirement," accessed Aug. 17, 2014

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