Generally, police need a warrant before they can enter a person's home, but there are many exceptions to the rule. Perhaps the most straightforward exception is when someone consents to let them enter.
A Baton Rouge man now faces counterfeiting and drug charges after the police alleged someone let them enter the man's apartment. The police say an anonymous tip told them that the man was printing counterfeit money and smoking methamphetamines in the apartment. When they arrived, they said they asked a man outside the apartment if they could enter. He agreed, and, when they entered, they allegedly saw drugs, drug paraphernalia and equipment used to print counterfeit bills.
The United States Constitution prohibits the police from making unreasonable searches, and that is why the police are generally supposed to have a warrant before they can enter a person's home. Courts agree that it would be unreasonable for police to burst into someone's home without any reason, and then go about searching the place.
However, courts have ruled, if the police are in the apartment legally -- for instance, when they are there to deal with an emergency, or when someone gives them permission to enter -- and they happen to see evidence of a crime just lying out in plain view, this does not amount to an unreasonable search. This kind of search is not prohibited by the Constitution, the courts have ruled.
Persons charged with drug crimes can defend themselves by investigating the circumstances of the search, and finding evidence of police misconduct. If the police acted unlawfully, the evidence they seized in the search can be thrown out. Without the evidence, the case may collapse.
The circumstances of every search and every defendant are different. A strategy of trying to disqualify the evidence may work in some cases and not in others. A wise criminal defense strategy looks at all the available evidence and comes up with the strategy that fits the defendant and the case.
Source: RedStickNow.com, "Baton Rouge Man Arrested for Counterfeiting and Drug Possession," March 4, 2013.