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Video Transcribed: I’m coming at you with a discussion of several scenarios where the police can search you without a warrant and without probable cause. And I say police, I should say law enforcement.
The first scenario is if you are entering into certain secured areas, such as a courthouse, a military reservation, a secured part of the airport, are some examples of this, where your entry is considered implied consent to the search.
I’ll give you a perfect example if you go into the Tulsa County Courthouse, they have a metal detector there, and there’s a scanner. And they can actually also search you, but that trip to the metal detector, that bag scanner, that’s a search.
And the legal implication is if you want to go to the courthouse, you consent to that search as a condition of being allowed in the courthouse. Another good example is obviously the airport. You want to get on your plane, you consent to that search. Another example of where you can be searched legally without a warrant and without probable cause is if you go through a port of entry into the United States.
So if you go on vacation down to Cancun and you come back through customs on your way back into the United States, they can legally search you and your possessions without a warrant. That is considered 100% legal. And again, it’s a condition you consent to the search by passing through customs.
Another example of where you can be searched under similar circumstances is there are some venues sometimes, you go to a concert, you go to a sporting event where they will search bags on the way in. And usually, they’re looking to make sure nobody’s sneaking in alcohol or some illegal drug, but they also look for weapons.
And that search is legal. Now, there are a couple of these, bear in mind, your fourth amendment privilege against unreasonable search and seizures applies against the state and federal government, not against a private party. And normally, those types of searches at venues are done by private security. But again, it’s considered a conditional search. You consent to that search if you want to enter the premises.
Now you can avoid the search. If you know you got something on you, you’re not supposed to have, you can avoid the search by not passing through security and leaving. They can’t stop you and search you if you take one look at them, turn around and leave. But if you want to go in, you consent to the search.
There’s also a rule called exigent circumstances, which is a fancy way of saying if you have an emergency, the police or other law enforcement can search in the event that they believe there’s an imminent threat to the safety and welfare of the occupant of a home, for example.
So let’s say that there’s a beat cop walking down your street and they hear a scream and a loud bang come from behind your door. They could very well justify coming into your home based on those facts because there is reason to believe someone may have just been harmed and that they may continue to be in danger.
Or if there’s a welfare call because the neighbor below you heard something hard hit the floor, and now it’s really quiet. Those are examples. Or if they can hear a crying baby that has been crying for hours and hours and hours, and no one’s attending to it.
That’s what’s called exigent circumstances, and the police can come in and search because in order to protect the health, welfare, and safety of the occupant. They find you passed out behind the wheel of your car, they may have exigent circumstances to go into your car.
There’s the plain view exception. What that is, is if there’s something that is illegal in the officer’s plain view, that is they can see it sitting out in the open, then they can seize that and they can justify further searching because now they have probable cause.
This is a good reason not to just invite the police into your home if you didn’t call them. But let’s say that a police officer knocks on your door, you open the door and you have a meth pipe that’s visible, a loaded meth pipe visible on the coffee table behind you.
That officer can come in and seize that meth pipe and search your home because it was in plain view. Another exception to the rule as well is automobiles. Automobiles don’t require a warrant.
If they want to search your car, they do need probable cause, but they don’t… For an automobile in transit, that is if you’re on the road, they don’t necessarily have to have a warrant. They do have to have probable cause to search though, that’s if it’s in transit.
Now there’s also another exception, which is DUI safety checkpoints have been found to be an exception to this rule. If they’re stopping everybody and it’s for looking for DUI.
And the rationale is that when they do these stops, they’re not looking for criminal activity so much as they’re looking to make sure that the driver is safe. And that has been upheld, and that is a lawful stop and search.
Then there’s the Terry rule, which’s a Terry stop and frisk. If the police have reasonable suspicion based on any characteristic about you that you might be up to the criminal activity, they can stop you to question you about it.
And if they have a reasonable suspicion that you are carrying a weapon on your person, then they can frisk you to look for the weapon for their own safety.
So those are some exceptions to the usual rule that requires the police to have probable cause and a warrant in order to conduct a search. If you need to speak with one of our criminal lawyers Tulsa, ok at our office, visit makelaweasy.com