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Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense: Can the Police Search My House After an Arrest?

Generally, the answer is no. Generally, people are free from unreasonable searches of their homes by the police and other government officials. This right is protected by the U.S. and Maryland Constitutions. If you have been arrested and the police searched your home, call us here at the Law Office of Robert Castro. The police may have violated your constitutional rights, and that might help your criminal defense or even allow you to bring a civil lawsuit against the police department. Our number is (301) 705-5137. We are proven Maryland criminal defense attorneys with offices in Waldorf, Maryland. We are available around the clock, 24/7.

That being said, there are a number of ways in which the police CAN conduct a search of your home that does not violate your constitutional rights. One method is to obtain a warrant from a judge. A warrant is a written instrument signed by the judge that permits the police to search your home. To be valid, a warrant must be based on justifiable grounds for a search, such as a well-grounded, evidence-based belief that a crime was committed in your home or that evidence of a crime is located in your home.

Even without a warrant, the police can — sometimes — conduct a lawful search of your home after an arrest. One common method used by police to get a lawful warrantless search is to ask permission. That is, if a person CONSENTS to allow the police to search, then the search is lawful. So, first, NEVER CONSENT TO ALLOW THE POLICE TO CONDUCT A SEARCH. Importantly, the police will never phrase the request as “Do you consent to a search?” Rather, the request will be something simple and innocent-sounding like: “What’s in the kitchen? Can I go in and take a look?” It is simple and does not seem like you are agreeing to a search. But, if you say “yes,” that is often deemed to be consent for the police to go to the kitchen and look.

Often, the police officer will be much more direct and authoritative and say something like: “I need to check what is in the kitchen. Is that okay?” Note that the police officer’s statement is like a command. Many think that they are not allowed to refuse an officer’s request to do something as simple as check out the kitchen. But you can and you should. The fact that a question is attached at the end — “Is that okay?” — means that if you say “yes,” you have consented to a search.

The other common way that police can conduct a lawful warrantless search is through the “in-plain-sight” rule. Let’s take an example. Suppose you are arrested at your front door. That arrest is almost never enough to allow the police to search the inside of your house (even though you are being arrested at your front door). But, as discussed above, you might accidentally consent to a search. Alternatively, the police might be allowed to search if they see, behind you through the open door, some evidence of a crime “in plain sight” (or in “plain view”). For example, if the police see — in plain view — a body lying on the floor, a person tied up and gagged, a large pile of illegal drugs, a pile of weapons, etc., the police are lawfully allowed to conduct a search to determine if a crime is being committed.

As can be seen, warrantless searches by law enforcement officials are legally complex. If the police make a mistake and conduct a search without lawful justification, any evidence uncovered will be excluded from your charge. That will help your criminal defense.

Contact Waldorf, Maryland Criminal Defense Lawyer Robert Castro Today

This article has been provided by the Law Office of Robert Castro. For more information or questions, contact our office to speak to an experienced Maryland criminal defense lawyer at (301) 705-5137. We are Waldorf, MD, Criminal Defense lawyers. Our address is 2670 Crain Highway, Waldorf, MD 20601.