Legal Search in Utah: When Do Officers Need a Warrant?
Were you illegally searched in Utah? Find out what constitutes a legal Utah Search Warrant and how a lawyer can help you fight an illegal search here.
Law Offices of David Paul White & Associates
Salt Lake City801-266-4114
St. George801-266-4185
Murray801-266-4185
699 East South Temple Suite 215 Salt Lake City, UT 84102
141 East 5600 South, Suite 209 Murray, UT 84107
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In Utah, only evidence discovered during a legal search is admissible in court. But when must law enforcement offers have a search warrant, and when can they search you, your car or your home without a one?

Utah Search warrant , only evidence discovered during a legal search is admissible in court.

Utah Search Warrant

But when must law enforcement offers have a utah search warrant, and when can they search you, your car or your home without a one?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the basis for legal search. It also establishes your reasonable expectation of privacy and protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Consequently, warrantless searches are not allowed without a justifiable exception.

In Utah Search warrant, only evidence discovered during a legal search is admissible in court.

But when must law enforcement offers have a search warrant, and when can they search you, your car or your home without a one?

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution establishes the basis for legal search. It also establishes your reasonable expectation of privacy and protection against unreasonable search and seizure. Consequently, warrantless searches are not allowed without a justifiable exception.

When You Agree to a Search

When you provide consent for law enforcement to search you, your automobile or home, it becomes a legal search.

When an officer asks if he or she can have a look around, you may feel compelled to agree, lest you appear to have something to hide. You have every right to refuse; however, the officer is unlikely to tell you so. Once you agree, any incriminating evidence the officer discovers may be used against you in court.

Plain View (and Plain Smell) Doctrine

During the course of a traffic stop or visit to your home, any suspicious items within
plain view may trigger a legal search.

Utah Search Warrant: If the officer spots a firearm or drug paraphernalia in your car, for example, it establishes probable cause for a warrantless search. The item in question must be obviously illegal in nature, however, and the officer must be legally present at the scene.

This doctrine also applies to any obvious aromas the officer may smell, including marijuana smoke or alcohol.

The Emergency Exception to Legal Search

If you watch police shows on television, you know that the characters always kick in a suspect’s door when they hear screaming or a commotion inside. This is a prime example of an emergency exception.

Law enforcement officers can enter and search without a warrant if they believe someone is in danger, if they believe a suspect is attempting flee through a window or back door, or if they have reasonable suspicion that evidence is being destroyed.

Legal Search Incident to Arrest

If you are placed under arrest for a valid reason, officers are legally entitled to search you, your home or your car. This exception does have some limits, specifically related to proximity. For example, searching your car is only legal if you are arrested in or near your car.

A recent U.S. Supreme Court ruling, Utah v. Strieff, addressed this exception as it pertains to outstanding arrest warrants. This ruling unfortunately diluted Fourth Amendment protections, as the court ruling granted officers greater leeway for checking the identification of someone they suspect of engaging in illegal activity.

In this case, Strieff had an outstanding warrant that was discovered after an officer stopped him based on an anonymous tip. Strieff was in possession of drugs, which the court ruled were discovered during a legal search based on the outstanding warrant.

At the Law Offices of David Paul White & Associates, we understand how complex the issue of illegal search and seizure can be. We are committed to making sure that you are afforded all protections to which you are entitled under the law. As experienced criminal defense lawyers, we help clients throughout the Salt Lake City area. Contact us today if you believe your rights to legal search have been violated.

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About Associates

The Law Offices of White & Matern, PLLC represent individuals across the Intermountain West and Utah in criminal defense matters, including those in Salt Lake County and Washington County as well as the cities of Salt Lake City, St. George, Logan, Brigham City, Provo, Orem, West Valley City, Sandy, Murray, Kearns, Draper, Park City, Tooele, Bountiful, Ogden, Layton, South Jordan, Taylorsville, Vernal, Price, Tremonton and Heber City

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