Whether you’ve faced accusations of a crime or are acquainted with someone in this situation, most people seek to understand the definition of an illegal search in Texas. The 4th Amendment requires a warrant for property or personal searches. This means law enforcement can’t search your home, vehicle, or any other property, including your body, without a judge-signed warrant. However, exceptions to this rule exist, as is the case with many other laws. Who can give consent to search a house? Find out in this blog post.
This one is simple. Consenting to a law enforcement search of your property, including your vehicle, eliminates the need for a warrant.
In many cases, your spouse or roommate may give consent without your presence or consent. If they grant consent and it’s clear they lacked authority for a specific area, you may have an argument.
But, the law allows for apparent authority. For instance, if your roommate believes they can enter your room or doesn’t mention lack of consent to the police, they can legally search your room. This is valid if the police reasonably believe your roommate had apparent authority.
This exception becomes applicable in situations where the police are actively pursuing a suspect, a crime is currently underway, or someone’s life is at risk. Additionally, it applies if officers suspect that a person may attempt to hide evidence of a crime while they secure a warrant.
Plain view and impound exception
If an item is in plain view, like in your vehicle, visible from outside, officers don’t need a warrant to search. Additionally, if your vehicle gets impounded, a police officer may search it for inventory purposes.
Police may search you or your vehicle at border checkpoints without a warrant.
Sobriety checkpoints represent another situation where officers can conduct a search without a warrant, but only for a limited purpose. There has been plenty of debate and cases about this constitutionality of this one.
Safety of officer or other people
The police can search you or your property if they have a reasonable belief that the safety of the officer or another person is at risk.
A vehicle search has lower standards than the search of your home. For example, if there is probable cause that there are drugs in your vehicle (for example when the officer smells the odor of drugs as he/she stands by your vehicle), the officer may search the vehicle without a warrant to find contraband.
Fruit of the poisonous tree
If the police obtain evidence of a crime through an unlawful search, the court will suppress the evidence and not use it against you. The legal community refers to this as the “fruit of the poisonous tree” doctrine. If the initial search that generated the evidence leading to your crime charges was illegal (i.e., the tree was poisonous), then the evidence derived from it (the fruit) is also deemed tainted.
Although, it is important to have a good criminal defense attorney to raise the proper motions and arguments before a judge, if there has been evidence gathered by an illegal search. Any legal arguments an accused may have are generally waived if they are not properly raised at the right time.
If you seek a criminal defense attorney and wish to learn more about illegal searches, strategies to combat your charges, or if you simply want to discuss your legal matter, contact me, Amir Tavakkoli, an attorney at the A.T. Law Firm in Houston. You can reach out by phone or email. Our phone number is 832-800-5590 and the email is firstname.lastname@example.org. We also travel to different counties including but not limited to Harris County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Chambers County, Galveston County, Ford Bend County, Waller County, and Brazoria. Contact the A.T. Law Firm by calling (832) 800-5590 for a free consultation.
Bryan Fagan, a native of Atascocita, Texas, is a dedicated family law attorney inspired by John Grisham’s “The Pelican Brief.” He is the first lawyer in his family, which includes two adopted brothers. Bryan’s commitment to family is personal and professional; he cared for his grandmother with Alzheimer’s while completing his degree and attended the South Texas College of Law at night.
Married with three children, Bryan’s personal experiences enrich his understanding of family dynamics, which is central to his legal practice. He specializes in family law, offering innovative and efficient legal services. A certified member of the College of the State Bar of Texas, Bryan is part of an elite group of legal professionals committed to ongoing education and high-level expertise.
His legal practice covers divorce, custody disputes, property disputes, adoption, paternity, and mediation. Bryan is also experienced in drafting marital property agreements. He leads a team dedicated to complex family law cases and protecting families from false CPS allegations.
Based in Houston, Bryan is active in the Houston Family Law Sector of the Houston Bar Association and various family law groups in Texas. His deep understanding of family values and his professional dedication make him a compassionate advocate for families navigating Texas family law.