Probable cause along with exigent circumstances may justify a search or entry without a warrant. This is also known as the emergency doctrine. Exigent circumstances case typically involve
- Protection of life
- Protection of property
- Preventing destruction of evidence
- Pursuing a fleeing felon
- Protective sweeps
Exigent circumstances may justify the initial entry into the house but because the purpose of the exception is to aid someone in distress or to secure safety, once the crisis is contained, further searching is not permitted. A warrant or another exception may authorize continued seating of the premises, however, and officers can secure the scene for the time it takes to get a warrant.
If police have probable cause to believe that a vehicle contains contraband or evidence of a crime, they may search the vehicle without a warrant under the automobile exception. This is based on a lessened expectation of privacy once a person enters a car, and the mobility of cars.
The automobile exception does not require any independent exigency for officers to be justified in searching without a warrant, as long as police have probable cause. The scope of a warrantless search based on probable cause is no narrower, and no broader, then the scope of a search of a search that would be authorized by a warrant supported by probable cause. If police have probable cause to search the vehicle, they can search the vehicle, they can search all containers in the vehicle and trunk as long as the size of the container reasonably corresponds to the size of the object for which they are searching. The automobile exception allows officers to search even after the suspect has exited the car. Once an officer determines he has probable cause to arrest a suspect, officers can ensure their safety and preserve evidence by searching the car’s entire passenger area.
The Fourth Amendment provides no protection at the border or its functional equivalent. By crossing any international borderline, a person has implicitly agreed to an inspection. Officers can stop someone at checkpoint or its equivalent and detain and question them but cannot search without probable cause.
If officers entry into a home is reasonable under the Fourth Amendment, other exceptions to the warrant requirement may allow further search or seizure than the justified at the beginning of the entry.
A person has no legitimate expectation of privacy in an open field regardless of fences, signs, or the property’s secluded location.
The Fourth Amendment protects the curtilage of a home, defined as the land immediately surrounding and associated with the home, but not land outside the curtilage, including an adjacent open field owned by the residents.
A suspect is considered to have relinquished any expectation of privacy once he has abandoned something, such as garbage left at the curb for pickup. Therefore, there is no search when poise seize property that has been abandoned. Abandoning evidence at houses and apartments is not as easily determined as at hotel rooms. Whatever possessions a defendant leaves behind after he checks out of a hotel room or vacates an apartment can be considered abandoned property, if there’s no reason to believe the defendant elects to come back for his things.
Dropping contraband or incriminating evidence in the hopes that offers won’t connect the defendant to the evidence amounts to abandonment. Numerous Texas cases have upheld officers’ right to seize drugs tossed aside by a suspect without a warrant under the theory of abandonment.
Once a defendant leaves his trash at the curb outside the curtilage of the home, he has given up his expectation of privacy in whatever is in the garbage bags, and officers may seize whatever is in the trash without a warrant under the abandonment theory. Even if the defendant is able to show that he had a subjective privacy expectation in his trash, that expectation is not one society is prepared to recognize as reasonable.
Car Frisk Under Terry
- Frisk of passenger compartment areas where weapons might be hidden; includes open and closed containers. No trunk search unless an initial search leads to probable cause. Focus of search are weapons.
Search Incident to Arrest
- Entire passenger compartment, console, glove compartment and any containers, open or closed, locked or not within suspect’s wingspan. No truck search unless initial search leads to probable cause to search trunk. Focus of search includes weapons and evidence.
- Any part of vehicle where the evidence sought might be located (anywhere a search warrant would allow officer to look based on probable cause. Trunk search is justified. Focus of search includes all items for which officer has probable cause.
- Any part of vehicle for which consent is given, including containers. Trunk search is justified if covered by consent. No specific focus of search required, just valid consent.
- Areas authorized by department’s inventory policy. Trunk search is justified if policy includes it. Focus of search are valuables, weapons, hazardous materials – not evidence.
In drug testing and in searches on school property, the Supreme Court has given schools leeway to use search powers to guard against dangers beyond that given in other contexts involving adults. The Court has ruled that a warrant and finding of probable cause in the public school context are unnecessary because the requirements would unduly interfere with the maintenance of the swift and informal disciplinary procedures that are needed. Determining the reasonableness of a search at school requires courts to look at two things whether the action was justified at its inception, and whether the search as actually conducted was reasonably related in scope to the circumstances which justified the interference in the first place.
Drug testing in the private sector does not implicate Fourth Amendment protections. The Supreme Court recognized a reasonable expectation of privacy that an employee has in is office, drawer, and files. A work related search by employers, however, will not require a warrant if its purpose is reasonable at the beginning and if the scope of the search does not exceed the justification. The Court tied the idea of reasonableness to the reason for and object of the search.
Drug and Alcohol Testing
A divided U.S. Supreme Court has shown increasing willingness to allow suspicion less drug testing in a variety of areas. In evaluating the reasonableness of a particular kind of drug testing, the Court has abandoned more traditional reasonableness inquires to balance the special needs that justify the program against the individual’s privacy interest.
Random drug testing in the private sector does not implicate Forth Amendment protections. Suspicion less drug testing of employees for certain sensitive positions can be reasonable. A court will weight the intrusion upon the privacy interests of the individuals being tested against the government’s stated special need in conducting the test. A program may be unconstitutional even if the intrusion is minimal if the government fails to establish a sufficient special need justifying the intrusion without individual suspicion.
In 2002, the Supreme Court ruled that suspicion less drug testing of all students participating in extracurricular activities was constitutional. The Court found the students privacy interests were not significant and the schools concerns about the nationwide drug epidemic were a significant factor in balancing the interests. Collin County criminal lawyer Constantine G. Anagnostis understands the law, procedures, and penalties pertaining to criminal law, and will aggressively fight to protect your rights.
Some activities carry a greater potential for public harm, and so the Fourth Amendment protections guarding against suspicion less searches to allow administrative searches that ensure compliance with regulations intended to ensure safety. These administrative searches are generally carried out by government agencies whose purpose is to regulate a particular industry.
No Warrant Required
Government agents may perform administrative searches without notice or a warrant.
The Fourth Amendment permits warrantless searches of parolees without any type of suspicion as a condition of parole and warrantless searches of probationers that are supported by reasonable suspicion and authorized as a condition of probation.
The Alcoholic Beverage Commission may make a warrantless search, without probable cause, of a club holding a beverage liquor license.
The Fourth Amendment does not prohibit warrantless entry into public areas to serve administrative subpoenas.
Administrative Warrant Required Health/Housing Inspections
The constitutionality of an administrative search for health or housing regulation compliance requires the familiar Fourth Amendment balancing test between the need to search versus the intrusion, with a slight variation. A routine administrative search is reasonable where the need for inspection viewed in terms of its goal, enforcement of the municipal code, in this case, outweighs the intrusion. The Supreme Court ruled that these administrative searches are typically reasonable based on judicial and public acceptance, they further the public goal of preventing dangerous conditions, and the intrusion on a person’s privacy.
Prosecutors can use subpoenas or grand jury subpoenas to obtain information gathered by non law enforcement entities. As long as the information was gathered without violating any law, the information should be admissible in a criminal prosecution and will not be kept out under Texas’ exclusionary rule.
Medical records are among the most commonly sought information obtained by non law enforcement personnel. Health and Safety Code allows a health care provider to disclose a patients health care information without the patients authorization if the disclosure is related to a judicial proceeding in which the patient is a party and the disclosure is requested under a subpoena. An entity covered by HIPPA is expressly authorized to disclose health information that is otherwise protected without a patient’s consent in numerous situations, including for law enforcement purposes.
Contact : Collin County Criminal Lawyer
Collin County criminal lawyer Constantine Anagnostis dedicates his practice to people who are facing criminal charges, with a primary emphasis on DWI, Drug Offenses, Expunction & Nondisclosure Agreements, and Occupational Driver’s License Issues. Collin County criminal lawyer Constantine G. Anagnostis understands the law, procedures, and penalties pertaining to criminal law, and will aggressively fight to protect your rights. Collin County criminal lawyer Constantine Anagnostis provides the utmost personal dedication to each and every case, and truly cares about his clients. You may call 817-229-0319 to schedule a free consultation, or submit a sample case form. At DFW Criminal Lawyers, L.L.C., we look forward to helping you.
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