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When can police search your property for drugs without a warrant?

On Behalf of | Aug 19, 2021 | Criminal Defense

If Georgia law enforcement has ever stopped you, you probably had many questions. For example, can an officer ask to examine your property for drugs? Do you have to comply?

Police will usually need the warrant to search your vehicle, home or person for illegal substances, but there are some circumstances where they can perform a search without a warrant.

When you give your consent

If you voluntarily consent, law enforcement can proceed with a search. An officer may not threaten you or promise some benefit to gain your consent. You are not required to agree, and you may revoke permission at any time.

When contraband is in plain view

An officer does not need to obtain a warrant or your consent if drugs or paraphernalia are clearly visible. If drugs are on your passenger seat, in your yard, or in your hand, they are likely in plain view.

When they make a lawful arrest

In many cases, the police may search you and anything in your immediate control after a lawful arrest. For example, after a drug-related arrest, an officer can typically examine your person for other substances.

When they need to take immediate action

Sometimes officers face situations where they believe they need to take immediate action, such as addressing an emergency or pursuing a fleeing individual. Under these circumstances, law enforcement might be able to search your property or person.

Though law enforcement must follow strict rules about searches, they do not always do so. If you believe you were the victim of an illegal drug search, you may have a legal defense to your charges.