The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects our homes against unreasonable searches and seizures by the police. A home may be search with a valid warrant but this will requires a showing before a judge of probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and the home contains evidence of the crime. Any container inside the home may be searched if there is reason to believe the container may conceal the object of the search, such as a controlled substance. If you happen to be a visitor in the home during the execution of a search warrant, you have a privacy interest that will protect your belongings from a police search. The police would need to establish independent probable cause before your belongings could be legally searched. If you have a purse, backpack or package in your possession during the search, it is considered to be a part of your person and is protected against a search. A problem arises when the purse, backpack or package is not technically in the visitor’s possession. If, for example, the police find the visitor seated in the living room and the package is located in the kitchen, it will be subject to a police search under the warrant as it is not within one’s immediate possession. The visitor’s privacy interest under these circumstances can no longer be protected under the Constitution.
If you were a visitor during the execution of a search warrant, you may have a legal defense to the criminal charge. Call now for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024.