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What happens when a search or arrest is warrantless?

On Behalf of | Mar 18, 2024 | Criminal Justice |

Each year thousands of law enforcement searches are carried out in New York and New Jersey, and even more arrests occur. Most of the arrests are probably warrantless, and many of the searches probably are too.

Our readers might wonder how this is possible. Isn’t the requirement for warrants for arrests and searches a constitutional right?

There is no simple answer but, if there were, it would be this: There are many, many exceptions to the warrant requirements.

Warrantless search or arrest

Arrest warrants, in particular, seem to be the exception nowadays rather than the rule. Law enforcement officers can make an arrest whenever they actually observe criminal activity and, for the most part, those arrests occur without warrants.

In general, arrest warrants are used when law enforcement officials have conducted an extensive investigation and feel secure in the evidence they have gathered, and then they decide to move forward with an arrest.

Although it is still common for law enforcement officials to get search warrants – probably more common than arrest warrants – the fact remains that warrantless searches are all too common. Certain doctrines carve out exceptions to the search warrant requirement of the Fourth Amendment, including doctrines such as: plain view; exigent circumstances; hot pursuit; and emergency situations.

If you have been arrested without a warrant or the evidence in your criminal case was gathered through a warrantless search, you have every right to question whether or not there may have been a constitutional violation in your situation. Be sure to have the facts of your case carefully reviewed for such potential violations.

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