There is much confusion regarding the police’s ability to search citizens in Georgia. People often believe that they must allow police officers to search them no matter the circumstances. This couldn’t be further from the truth. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, and the circumstances under which police officers can perform searches is limited. Below is an overview of when the police can perform searches in Georgia. For additional information, please contact a Georgia criminal defense attorney.
Searches With a Warrant
If the police obtain a warrant to search you, your home, your vehicle, or your effects, they are permitted by law to do so. In order to obtain a warrant, the police must present facts to a judge that demonstrate that there is probable cause that a location contains evidence of a crime. If the judge determines that there is probable cause that the evidence sought by the police is located in a particular location, the judge will issue a search warrant.
Searches Without a Warrant
Although the police generally need a warrant to search you, there are several exceptions to this rule. Some of the exceptions to the warrant requirement include:
- Consent – If the police ask you if they can perform a search, and you voluntarily consent to the search, then a warrant isn’t required.
- Plain view – If police observe illegal contraband from a legal vantage point (such as through your car window), they don’t need a warrant to conduct a search.
- Stop and frisk – If a police officer has a reasonable, articulable suspicion that you either recently committed a crime or are about to commit a crime, he or she may stop you. And if the officer wants has a reasonable belief that you are armed and dangerous, he or she may pat you down to check for weapons.
- Hot pursuit – If a person commits a crime and runs from the police, the police pursuing that individual may enter and search the area to where he or she flees.
- Emergency – If the police reasonably believe that immediate action must be taken to protect life or property, they may conduct a warrantless search.
- Arrest – In most cases, the police may search a person and the area in his or her immediate control as part of a legal arrest.
Contact a Georgia Criminal Defense Attorney
If you’ve been charged with a crime in Georgia, you need an experienced Georgia criminal defense attorney on your side. At Carter Pilgrim, our talented criminal defense attorneys have a long track record of defending clients against criminal charges. We have a strong reputation in Georgia for courtroom success and the ability to obtain favorable plea bargains and dismissals for our clients. Therefore, if you’ve been arrested or charged with a misdemeanor or felony in Georgia, please contact us as soon as possible to schedule a consultation.