When Is It Legal For Police To Search My Car or Home in Missouri?

The fourth amendment states that “The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”

police car pulling over another car

However, like most things, there are some exceptions to this amendment that many people are not aware of. Below you’ll find information about when law enforcement agents can search your car or home and when they can not so that you can know your rights and be prepared if you happen to fall into this situation.

If you believe that your car or home has been searched unlawfully, call Missouri Legal today for a free consultation and legal advice.

When It’s Legal for a Police Officer to Search Your Car or Home in Missouri

Your Car

In most situations during a traffic stop, a police officer does not have the legal right to search your car without your consent or a warrant. However, there are some circumstances that nullify this law. This includes situations where the police officer believes that there is probable cause to search your vehicle. The following conditions are considered lawful and will allow a police officer to search your vehicle:

  • With your consent
  • With a valid search warrant
  • If you are arrested and the search is related to the arrest.
  • The officer has probable cause to believe that there is evidence in your vehicle.
  • The officer has probable cause to protect themselves (hidden weapon).

Basically, if the officer believes he or she has probable cause to search your vehicle, they will. 

Your Home

In the event that a law enforcement officer wants to search your home and property, he or she must have a search warrant. However, in the following examples, it is legal for law enforcement agents to search your Missouri home without a search warrant:

  • You give your consent voluntarily without being tricked or coerced into it. *A police officer does not have to tell you that you have the right to refuse a search.
  • If police officers see illegal activity or illegal objects in plain view, no search warrant is required. 
  • If you are arrested for a crime, police officers can legally search your property without a warrant for evidence or to protect themselves if they believe any weapons to be in or on the property.
  • If the police believe that evidence is being destroyed, that the suspect is trying to escape, or that someone is being injured, this will outweigh the need for a search warrant in order to maintain public safety and potentially lose evidence. 

When It’s Not Legal for a Police Officer to Search Your Car or Home in Missouri

Your Car

It is not legal for a police officer to search your vehicle without your consent and if they don’t have probable cause. For example, if you were pulled over for speeding and showed no signs of inebriation, there were no signs of illegal activity, etc. Officers don’t have probable cause to search your vehicle and, without your consent, they cannot. If you have been a victim of an unlawful search and seizure, and are now facing criminal charges in Missouri because of it, it is your right to take legal action. Contact Missouri Legal to find out how our Springfield criminal defense attorneys can help. 

Your Home

Unless police officers or law enforcement officials have a legal search warrant and none of the previously mentioned situations occur, police officers do not have the right to search your home or property. 

It is illegal for a police officer to trick or coerce you into having them enter your home. However, if you consent to a legal search, any evidence found in your home or on your property can be used against you. If you find yourself in a situation where the police are trying to search your home, contact your Missouri criminal defense lawyer immediately for the best course of action to take. 

We hope that this information will help you in the future to better understand your rights concerning when the police are able to search your home, car, or property in Missouri and when they are not. If you are already facing criminal charges for what you believe to be an unlawful search and seizure, contact Missouri Legal today for advice and legal assistance.