You are afforded certain rights under the U.S. Constitution. Specifically, the Fourth Amendment protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures, and dictates that no warrants shall be issued but upon a showing of probable cause.
Yet, the problem with warrantless searches is just that: they involve police officers making arrests before a judge has a chance to decide if probable cause exists to make those arrests.
While there are circumstances under which a police officer can legally make a warrantless arrest, it is important to note that in order to keep that suspect in custody, they will still need to satisfy the probable cause requirement of the U.S. Constitution.
It is also important to note that illegal warrantless arrests are made every day in our country, and there are viable defenses inadmissible evidence is gathered as a result.
Legal Warrantless Arrests
The typical circumstances under which a police officer can legally make a warrantless arrest often involve the alleged crime being committed in the officer’s presence or when the police officer claims that they have probable cause to believe that the suspect has committed a felony.
Entering Dwellings without a Warrant
It is also important to note that the U.S. Supreme Court has generally held that police officers must first obtain arrest warrants before entering someone’s residence to arrest them unless “exigent circumstances” exist, which make it impracticable for the officer to obtain a warrant first. Exigent circumstances have typically involved suspects who are entering dwellings while they are fleeing from the police, someone being in danger inside the dwelling, or when a police officer is allowed into the residence by someone else (i.e. consent has been provided voluntarily).
When Do They Have Consent?
Understandably, this issue of whether consent was given to enter a dwelling in order to make a warrantless arrest comes up quite frequently in court. In instances where consent is contested, it is the government’s burden to prove that it was first obtained before they entered the dwelling without a warrant. Factors frequently taken into account in deciding whether or not consent was provided by the individual who allegedly provided it have included:
- Languages spoken;
- Knowledge of the law;
- Knowledge of one’s right to refuse to let the officer in;
- Intelligence; and
- Any threats made (directly or implicitly) by the police officer.
However, it is important to note that a property owner and/or someone else who uses the property is legally able to provide that consent.
What Is An Emergency Situation?
It is also the government’s burden to prove that an emergency circumstance existed to justify entering without a warrant. In deciding whether or not the police officer was justified in doing so, the court will look at whether there was an issue of safety and/or need of emergency aid involved, whether evidence could have been destroyed, or whether the officer was in hot pursuit of the suspect (who could have taken flight).
Texas Warrantless Arrest Criminal Defense Lawyers
If you have been the victim of a warrantless arrest, it is crucial that you work with an experienced criminal defense attorney right away so as to ensure that any evidence illegally collected against you is inadmissible. If you had a reasonable expectation of privacy where a warrantless entry was made, you could challenge the warrantless entry. Contact our Texas criminal defense attorneys right away to find out how we can help; we have offices in Angleton, Houston, and Pearland, Texas.