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The ABCs of Dealing With Domestic Violence

Domestic violence was a part of my family's life for years. When I made the decision to leave with my children, I had to rely on the law to provide the protection we needed. Sometimes, the system does not work as fast as we want. I soon learned that going at it alone without any guidance caused significant delays. I created this blog to help others who are seeking legal means to deal with an abusive ex. By making the right moves, it is possible to get the necessary protections in place so that you can also live a happier and healthier life.


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The ABCs of Dealing With Domestic Violence

When Do the Police Need a Warrant?

by Gina Hill

Seeing a police officer search your home, car, or body can be a very upsetting experience. You might wonder whether the cops were within their rights to detain you or conduct a search. If you seek out criminal attorney services, here are three things a lawyer will tell you about when the police need a warrant and when they do not.

Reasonable Expectation of Privacy

The core legal requirement for a search warrant is that the subject of an investigation or a complaint has a reasonable expectation of privacy. If you're sitting around in your living room, for example, you don't expect a cop to suddenly appear without any notice. A similar expectation of privacy involves invasive pat-downs of individuals if they've been detained in public.

Notably, there are degrees to the expectation of privacy. The police have the right to briefly detain motorists on reasonable suspicions, for example, but they don't have the right to search the vehicle without a warrant or probable cause. Consequently, a cop who wants to search your vehicle usually has to impound the vehicle and then obtain a search warrant.


Like many things in the law, there are exceptions. Generally, imminent danger voids the search warrant requirement. For example, if cops hear someone screaming for help, they can enter a building without a warrant. This concept is often referred to as exigent circumstances, meaning there was no better option for the cops than to immediately intervene to avoid someone coming to harm.

Consent is another basis for searches. If a police officer comes to your home and asks if you mind if they have a look around, saying yes would constitute consent. Most courts recognize that people can revoke consent at any time, however, a cop may establish sufficient probable cause in the meantime.

There is also a plain sight exception. If a patrol officer sees drugs on the passenger seat of a suspect's car, the cop is can proceed with a search.

What to Do if There's an Illegal Search?

You probably won't be able to get in touch with a court in time to prevent a search. However, contact a criminal attorney as soon as possible. If a warrant is presented, take note of what the cops are searching for and where they think it is. Break out your phone and record the scene, but stay out of the way of the police. 

To learn more, contact a criminal attorney near you.