Four Common Exceptions To The Search Warrant Requirement

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Under the Fourth Amendment, all Americans have the right to be protected from illegal searches and seizures. Generally speaking, this means that if law enforcement wants to search or enter an area, they must obtain a warrant that allows them to take such action. The warrant requirement, though, is not absolute and there are several exceptions. Below, our Ouachita Parish criminal defense lawyer explains what these are.


The most obvious exception to the warrant requirement is consent. Any time someone consents to a police officer searching their vehicle or home, it is a legal search even if law enforcement does not have a search warrant. So many people consent to a search because they believe they have a legal obligation to, but that is not true. Never consent to a police officer searching your property, so you do not inadvertently give up your rights.

Plain View

If an officer can see something that is in plain view, they do not have to conduct an actual search and so, this provides an exception to the warrant requirement, as well. For example, if an officer pulled a driver over and saw marijuana paraphernalia on the passenger seat, which would provide them with probable cause for an arrest. Arguing that the evidence was not actually in plain view is usually the best defense to this exception.

Open Fields

The concept behind the open fields exception is similar to that of evidence being in plain view. If law enforcement can find evidence of a crime in an open field while in a helicopter, that is an exception to the warrant requirement. For example, if someone grew marijuana plants in their backyard, they may not be in plain view from the ground, but they would be from the air.

Abandoned Property

When a person abandons their own property, it is presumed that they no longer have an interest in it. After abandoning the property, law enforcement can then seize it without obtaining a warrant first. For example, someone may have evidence of a crime that they throw into their garbage can. When they take the garbage can to the street, the property is considered abandoned and law enforcement has the right to seize it without obtaining a warrant. Another common example is when a suspect at a crime scene throws away incriminating evidence they had on their person so they are not arrested.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Ouachita Parish Can Advise You of Your Rights

Even after being accused of a crime, it is important to remember that you still have many rights. At Whiddon Criminal Defense, our Ouachita Parish criminal defense lawyer will advise you of what those are and make sure they are upheld at all times. If your rights have been violated, we can also use that in your evidence to get important evidence against you thrown out. Call us today at 318-594-3592 or contact us online to schedule a free review of your case and to find out more about how we can protect your future.

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