When Do Police Have the Authority to Search My Property in Illinois?

St. Charles drug crime defense attorney

Many drug possession charges and other criminal charges are the results of law enforcement officers searching the defendant’s property. Being the subject of a police search can be extremely stressful and confusing. When a police officer asks to search your property, do you have the right to deny the request? Your rights regarding searches of your personal property can vary depending on the circumstances, so it is crucial to understand the Illinois laws regarding search and seizure. If you are charged with a crime because drugs or other contraband are found on your property, and the search was not conducted legally, the evidence discovered in the search may not be admissible in court.

Police Searches of Your Home

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution places limits on when and how law enforcement can search an individual, his or her property, or seize contraband and other items. The Constitution states, “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause…” However, in most instances, a police officer may not search or seize an individual or his or her property unless the officer has a valid search warrant signed by a judge or a valid arrest warrant. In some situations, the legal concept of “exigent circumstances” gives police the right to search a home without a warrant. A law enforcement officer has the authority to enter a home or perform a warrantless search if there is a risk of imminent danger, contraband is in plain sight, the evidence is being destroyed, or a suspect is attempting to escape.

Police Searches of Your Vehicle

The law regarding searches and seizures applies differently to motor vehicles than it does to homes. A police officer can search your car, truck, or other vehicles if one of the following conditions is present:

  • You give the officer permission to search your vehicle.

  • The officer has “probable cause” to believe that you have committed a crime.

  • The officer believes that a search is needed for his or her own protection. (If the officer believes you have a concealed weapon that you may use to harm him or her, this may be grounds for a search.)

  • You have been placed under arrest.

Contact a St. Charles Drug Crime Defense Lawyer

Law enforcement officers cannot search a person’s home or car without a good reason. If you have been the subject of an unlawful search and/or seizure, and you were charged with a criminal offense as a result, it is possible that the evidence may not be admissible in court. If it is discovered that evidence being used against you was obtained in an unlawful search, the evidence may be rejected, and the charges against you may be dropped. To learn more about fighting criminal charges stemming from an illegal search, contact an experienced Illinois criminal defense attorney from the Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC. Call us at 630-232-1780 for a free, confidential consultation.