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Warrantless Search & Seizures in Arizona

If you’re suspected of a crime, or if you’re the target of a criminal investigation, you may be wondering about your rights in a warrantless search and seizure. As a general rule, the police are not supposed to conduct a warrantless search and seizure, and if they do it must be because they felt it was an urgent matter: “the burden is on the government to establish that a search or seizure falls within a well-established exception to the warrant requirement,” according to Maricopa.gov.

What are the exceptions?

  • You provide voluntary consent to a law enforcement officer. This can be a concern for juveniles whose parent or grandparent gives the police consent to search the youth’s bedroom. “The officer is not required to tell the parent that they may deny the request to search,” according to Maricopa.gov.
  • If something is in plain view and the officer sees an item when they are in a place they are lawfully allowed to be, and the officer has probable cause to believe the item in question should be subject to a seizure.
  • The suspect can be searched if he or she is in custodial arrest. The charge itself is not relevant as long as the suspect was arrested and taken into custody.
  • There are exigent circumstances (pressing or urgent). For example, if the police are immediately pursuing a suspect, they may enter a house. Or, if they believe someone is in danger or if they need to search for survivors, they can enter a home without a warrant. However, if the case goes to trial, the state has to prove that exigent circumstances existed and there was probable cause at the time of the search, and that it was impractical to obtain a warrant.
  • As a result of the court ruling in theUnited States v. Montoya de Hernandez, all people and property entering the U.S. can be searched without individual suspicion.

To learn more about Arizona’s laws regarding warrantless search and seizures, and for legal representation in Phoenix, contact the Law Offices of Joshua S. Davidson, PLC for a free case evaluation with a former Maricopa County prosecutor!

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