The Law Office Of Caroline Norman Frost Maryland Criminal Defense Attorney
Nation's Premier NACDA Top Ten Ranking 2023

Maryland’s Most Zealous Criminal and DUI Defense Attorney

A search warrant has to be valid

On Behalf of | Dec 1, 2022 | Criminal Defense

Hypothetical situation involving criminal charges after a search of your home:

You’re facing criminal charges and the prosecution claims they have compelling evidence against you which was obtained during a search of your home. Law enforcement knocked on your door and asked to search your home. You told them “NO.” You never gave law enforcement permission, which means they had to follow the appropriate legal protocols before conducting a search of your home without your consent.

Absent a true emergency, or consent, law enforcement officers cannot enter your home without a warrant. Most likely, if consent to search is denied by a suspect, the police will attempt to get a search warrant. Search warrants are not always based on accurate information and sometimes they lack particularity. Therefore, even with a search warrant, the State might have to deal with evidence being suppressed due to the search warrant being defective in various ways. If this hypothetical situation sounds similar to your case, then you should contact an experienced criminal attorney to learn more about how you can protect yourself from unlawful searches, your rights under the Fourth Amendment/Article 26 of the Maryland Declaration of Rights, and evidence that should be suppressed.

According to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution (amend. IV), “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” When considering what is reasonable or unreasonable, the court will use a balancing test, weighing your privacy rights against the interest of law enforcement and society/people as a whole in ferreting out, stopping, and preventing crime. Many search and seizures are constitutionally valid.  However, without a warrant they are presumptively unreasonable violations of one’s Fourth Amendment rights.

In terms that apply equally to seizures of property and to seizures of persons, the Fourth Amendment has drawn a firm line at the entrance to the house. Absent exigent circumstances, that threshold may not reasonably be crossed without a warrant.

Can police come in my home to arrest me?

Police can arrest you in your home if they have an arrest warrant and you are not coming outside your home when/if requested. An arrest warrant suffices to authorize law enforcement to enter your home if you are the subject of the arrest warrant and if, at the time of the entry, the police had reason to believe that you were in your home.

What if the police have a warrant to arrest me and they arrest me in my home…can they search my home?

It depends. If the police show up to your home in Maryland with a valid Maryland arrest warrant, and they lawfully enter your home in order to arrest you, there are a number of factors and legal doctrines that come into play before being able to determine if a search of your home was legal.

Plain view:

If the police lawfully entered your home to arrest you with an arrest warrant and while inside they see contraband in plain view, then the plain view doctrine is applicable to any suppression issue regarding the search of your home.

You must be the named person on the warrant. Additionally, the documentation must contain the appropriate address that is to be subjected to the search. So, if the warrant names your sibling or another property that you own, it is not valid and anything produced during the search is likely to be inadmissible in court.

There are many cases in Maryland that may serve as precedent in your case. The facts of your case need to be compared to previous cases in Maryland, where the court made a suppression decision. The specific details that led up to the search and seizure in your case should be examined by an attorney that has experience reading and applying case law to suppression arguments.