The last thing anyone in Colorado expects is to face criminal charges. This can be blind-siding; however, law enforcement must follow the proper procedures to search property or person. These are search warrant requirements in criminal investigations.
Understanding your rights
Under the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, you have the right to be protected from unlawful searches and seizures. As such, if you’re under investigation for a suspected crime, law enforcement officers cannot violate those rights. If they search without meeting the right requirements, evidence that is obtained could be excluded.
Search warrant requirements
If a criminal investigation is underway and police have probable cause, they can obtain a search warrant from a neutral judge or magistrate. In most cases, this is only possible if law enforcement officers obtain an affidavit attesting to criminal activities they or informants have witnessed.
Once law enforcement officers have a search warrant, they are only able to search certain things. Searches must only be for property described in the warrant; for example, if the suspect’s home is mentioned, this doesn’t extend to their workplace.
Some scenarios allow police to perform a search without a warrant. One is when the suspect gives explicit consent for their property or person to be searched. If a person is arrested, the police don’t need a warrant to search them or the immediate area.
Another situation where police can search without a warrant is when something is in plain view. For example, a police officer stops a driver for failing to signal when making a turn. While talking to the person through the open driver’s side window, the officer immediately notices drug paraphernalia in clear sight on the passenger’s seat. They could then search the rest of the vehicle.
An arrest for any crime can be life-changing. Knowing your rights and protecting them could make a big difference in your future.