The fourth amendment of the United States Constitution provides that a search warrant is issued only “upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation” it must particularly describe the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. Illinois v. Gates (1983) 462 U.S. 213.
The first exception is consent. If someone who has authority to give consent to search the premises, vehicle, container, purse, phone, gives the officers or agents consent to search, no warrant is required. There is often a conflict over whether or not consent was given. Very often people are intimidated by the presence of a law enforcement officer and will give consent because they don’t know that they do not have to give consent to search unless the officer has a warrant. In many cases, the police report will indicate that consent was given when in fact, it was not. It then becomes a matter of “he said, she said.” If witnesses are present during a search they may be needed to testify at a hearing on this issue.
Another exception to the search warrant requirement is the “plain view doctrine”. If law enforcement sees contraband in plain view they may search without a warrant. For example, if the police pull you over for speeding and they see a bag of marijuana sitting on the center console of your vehicle, they can search your car.
“Exigent circumstances” is another exception to the search warrant requirement. If law enforcement has reason to believe that a crime is currently being committed and they can stop some harm from occurring or they believe that evidence is being destroyed and they can prevent its destruction, they can enter the premises or act without a search warrant.
The police are not required to leave a copy of the search warrant at the location of the search although they often do. Police are required to leave a receipt for any property taken pursuant to Penal Code section 1535.
If a search was conducted without a warrant or if the search with a warrant was unreasonable because the warrant was not sufficient on its face, the property or evidence obtained was not described in the warrant, there was not probable cause for the issuance of the warrant or there was any other violation of state or federal law, the Law Office of Diane C Bass has extensive experience in arguing motions to suppress the evidence obtained during the search pursuant to Penal Code Section 1538.5. In many cases where the evidence is suppressed, the prosecution cannot pursue their case and the result is a dismissal of the charges.