Top 3 Reasons Police Use to Search Your Home in Michigan
Although the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures of an individual's residence, an increasingly larger amount of justifications exist that allow police to enter, search, and seize items within the homes. Here are the top three.
1. They have a search warrant.Far and away, if police just searched a home, they likely had a search warrant. To acquire a search warrant for a residence, police need essentially four things. First, police need probable cause. Probable cause is simply the quantum of proof necessary to show that a reasonable person would conclude that evidence of a crime will be found within the home. Second, police must state with particularity the items to be seized. Third, the officer applying for the search warrant (i.e., the "affiant") must make an oath and affirmation that everything in the warrant is true. And lastly, police need the approval and signature of neutral and detached magistrate--a judge that has nothing to personally or professionally gain from the police searching the home.
A search conducted with a warrant is presumed reasonable. A search conducted without a search warrant is presumed unreasonable and unconstitutional, unless a specific and well-delineated exception to this so-called "search warrant rule" exists. The remaining two reasons are examples of such exceptions.
2. Exigent circumstances exist.Even without a warrant, police may enter a home under an exception known as "exigent circumstances." Under this rule, police may enter and search a home to do one of two things: (1) find a fleeing suspect that they are in "hot pursuit" of, or (2) find and seize evidence that they believe will inevitably be destroyed before they have time to acquire a search warrant. In either instance, the search is limited by the exigency. For example, police may enter home when they believe a large quantity of drugs within the home will be flushed down the toilet; however, the police may not search in locations that would be too small to contain the quantity of drugs (i.e., police may not look for an elephant in a bread basket). Likewise, once the exigency ends, so too much the search.
While police are in the home, anything illegal that they see and can legally acquire that is in "plain view," is admissible in court. This so-called "plain view doctrine" exists when police are in a home they are legally allowed to be in (e.g., they either have a warrant or exigent circumstances exist), when they have a lawful right of access to the items to be seized (not only that they are visible to the officers), and when the incriminating nature of the items is readily apparent without manipulation.
An extension of the exigent circumstances doctrine is the community caretaking function of rendering immediate aid to those in need. If police believe that emergency aid must be rendered by entering a home without a warrant, they may do so as long as the belief is reasonable and adhere to the limitations as outlined above. Plain view may also play a role when rendering emergency aid.
Also, if a person was recently arrested within the home, police may perform a cursory "protective sweep" in order to assure that nobody is able to launch an immediate surprise attack upon them.
3. You consented.Police need not bother with getting a search warrant when the resident of the home consents to the police searching it. The consent, though, must be given voluntarily and without police coercion. But what if two co-tenants of the property are present when officers ask for consent, and one objects to the police searching the property? Which tenant wins? The answer is that the objecting tenant's answer prevails. If one tenant is present when the police ask for consent and objects to the consent, then the police may not enter without a search warrant or an exception to the search warrant rule. However, if only one tenant is present and consents, police may search wherever they believe that resident had authority to give consent to search. That person need not even be a resident of the property; the police only need to reasonable believe that he or she is a resident in order to warrant searching the premises.