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Standard operating procedure for warrantless search and seizure in Indiana

On Behalf of | Sep 13, 2022 | Criminal Defense

When it comes to warrantless searches and seizures in Indiana, there is a process that law enforcement officers must follow. State police guidelines clearly state that the searches must be conducted completely according to the law.

The guidelines were set up according to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which does not allow unreasonable search and seizure of people or their property. Additionally, the guidelines are based on the Indiana Constitution as well. Both the U.S. and Indiana Constitutions acknowledge that searches and seizures are only allowed to be conducted under certain circumstances and certain exceptions.

How does a law enforcement officer obtain permission?

Before a law enforcement officer starts a search and seizure, they are recommended to consult with the legal advisor within the police force or within the prosecuting attorney’s office. This should occur whenever possible. The law enforcement officer should ask any judge in Indiana for a search warrant whenever possible.

The law enforcement officer may request permission in the following ways:

  • Orally or as a formal, written request
  • By phone
  • By radio
  • In a recorded hearing in front of a judge
  • By fax
  • By Email

What are the exceptions to obtaining a warrant?

Considering that the law enforcement officer is where they should be (from a legal perspective), there are circumstances under which the officer does not legally need a warrant to search an individual or their property.

  • Plain view: If the officer detects something that can be used as evidence, a warrant is not necessary. That means that the officer can detect it by seeing, hearing, touching or smelling the evidence. If that happens, they don’t need a warrant to seize that evidence.
  • Open field: If evidence is detected outside (not within the confines of a building), the officer is allowed to seize it without a warrant.
  • Aerial surveillance: If an officer can detect evidence from the air, they can seize the evidence without needing a warrant.
  • Property that has been abandoned: According to the law, an abandoned property does not have Fourth Amendment protection. On the other hand, garbage that the officer finds at abandoned property is protected and the only situation in which a warrant is not needed is if the officer has a good reason to suspect that the objects that they find are legitimate evidence.
  • Searching a vehicle that was seized legally: The items that are searched and potentially seized may include items in containers as well as items that are not in containers. The search may also include areas of the vehicle that are locked. The police have an obligation to create an inventory list, which must be done officially using a Police report.
  • Exigent circumstances: Sometimes, there are circumstances in which the police officer must act quickly, for example, if the person committing an alleged crime is trying to destroy evidence, is trying to run away from the officer or if the officer feels that they are in danger of harm from the person who is allegedly committing the crime.

These are some of the circumstances under which a warrantless search and seizer is acceptable. There are many others as well.

Valuable advice from a criminal defense attorney

If you are facing criminal charges, it is most likely very sensible to seek valuable advice from a knowledgeable Indianapolis, Indiana, defense attorney, who can help you to fight the charges and hopefully, obtain positive results. The attorney can walk you through the process and help you to understand what to expect while protecting your rights at the same time.