The fourth amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution prohibit unreasonable searches and seizures of your property or person. If they want to, law enforcement officers must get a court order, or a warrant, from a judge that outlines what they can search and seize and for what purpose. However, there are also circumstances where a police officer may search your home without a warrant.
Your rights as a resident of Indiana
All citizens, permanent residents and even undocumented immigrants have the same constitutional rights under the fourth amendment. It reads, “Police officers in Indiana or the federal law enforcement personnel shall not violate the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers and effects with unreasonable searches and seizures, and courts can only issue warrants when there’s probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing what to search and the persons or things to seize.”
In other words, police officers must have a warrant to search your home unless you give them permission to do so. Even if they have a warrant, they can only search the specific areas and for the specific items that the judge listed. If they find anything else while searching those specific areas, they cannot seize it without another warrant.
There are also certain circumstances where a police officer may enter your home without a warrant. These are known as “exigent circumstances.” Exigent circumstances are when the police believe that there is an immediate need to enter the home to: prevent someone from getting hurt, prevent the destruction of evidence and apprehend a suspect inside the home. If they enter your home without meeting these conditions, your criminal defense attorney can petition the court to dismiss any evidence the police gathered and also compensate you for damages.
You should also be aware that even if the police violated your rights, the court might use the evidence they find during the unreasonable search. This is because the exclusionary rule, which prohibits the use of illegally obtained evidence, does not apply in situations where the court believes the police obtained the evidence in good faith.