When do police have the right to search your home?

In the state of Pennsylvania, growing marijuana is considered a felony even if you have no intention to sell it. Because of these strict laws, it's good to understand what your rights are when it comes to house searches conducted by police.

FindLaw immediately points out that unwarranted searching of personal property doesn't actually mean that police cannot search without a warrant. Rather, it simply means that police need a reason to search the premise. Warranted reasons to search are defined by the courts and include:

  • Having probable cause and obtaining a warrant
  • If you give them permission to search
  • If you have been arrested at your home
  • If something illegal is in view of the police
  • If there is an emergency situation which requires it

As an example, leaving marijuana in direct view of the front door will allow for police to legally be able to search the premise. If you give them permission to look around your home when they ask, the search that is conducted is also done legally.

Emergency situations have more room for interpretation. Generally speaking, emergency situations will involve someone's life or safety, or if police are in hot pursuit of a suspect and searching the premise will aid in that investigation.

Finally, to obtain a warrant, police must already have probable cause to search your home. This means they must already have strong reason to believe that a search will turn up something illegal before the warrant is even obtained.

Being aware of how far police can go when it comes to searching your home may end up being a big help to you in court. You may wish to discuss the situation with a legal professional to determine if the search was conducted legally, and what to do next whether that is or isn't the case.

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