Typically, to obtain the evidence needed to arrest and convict someone of a crime, Oregon officers will need to search several spaces that may contain evidence of the alleged crime. However, the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution prevents officers from conducting unreasonable searches and seizures of any place where a person has a reasonable expectation of privacy (e.g., residence or private office).
Under the Fourth Amendment, officers generally may not perform a search and seizure of a private space without a valid search warrant. However, it can take a while for an officer to obtain a warrant, which gives the perpetrator more time to destroy the evidence. To prevent this from happening, the Supreme Court will allow searches and seizures if it falls under one of the approved warrantless exceptions.
A few exceptions to the warrant requirement include:
- Consent: Party with authority over the premises (or party that officer reasonably believed had authority) consents to the search without being coerced.
- Search was incident to an arrest: Search occurs at the same time or shortly after the arrest and is reasonable to prevent arrestee from destroying evidence or accessing a weapon.
- Plain view: Officer has probable cause to believe that items in “plain view” are evidence of a crime.
Law enforcement officers are often willing to do whatever it takes to obtain the evidence needed to arrest and convict someone of a crime. Unfortunately, they may even be willing to violate a person’s Constitutional rights. A criminal defense attorney can help make sure your rights are protected and that any evidence obtained during an unlawful search and seizure is not admissible against you in court.