Generally, there are four circumstances in which a search warrant may not be required for police to search your home:
- A person in control of the property gives consent to the search. Remember the police do not have to tell you that you have the right to refuse, but you do.
- If an officer already has the right to be on your property and sees contraband or evidence of a crime that is in plain view, that object may be lawfully seized and used as evidence against you. For example, if the police are in your home or apartment on a domestic violence call and observe drugs or drug paraphernalia, those items can be seized as evidence.
- Police may conduct a search of your home incident to an arrest to find weapons or other accomplices to protect their safety, or they may otherwise search to prevent the destruction of evidence.
- Under exigent or emergency circumstances, your home may be searched when the process of getting a valid search warrant could compromise public safety or could lead to a loss of evidence.
If police do not have a warrant to search your home, you may refuse to give consent for the search. If law enforcement officers conduct a search without a search warrant and over your objections, do not interfere. Instead make it clear you are not giving consent, contact your attorney immediately and ask if you can observe the search, taking notes regarding where the officers search, what they gather and identities, badge numbers and agencies of the officers. Contact the Law Offices of Andrew C. Ladd for help with charges stemming from a Wisconsin police search and seizure of your home.