Search Warrants


A search warrant can only be granted if a police officer has probable cause to believe that a crime has occurred. The search warrant must contain a specific description of the property or things to be seized. If the warrant is too general, then it will be invalid because broad exploratory searches are forbidden. However, there is an exception to the strict rules in securing a warrant, and that is the exigent circumstances exception. If the delay in securing a search warrant would cause harm to any person, the loss or destruction of evidence, or the escape of possible suspects, then a search can be made before obtaining a proper warrant.


A police officer does not need a warrant if he/she has obtained consent to conduct the search. The officer can gain consent from a third-party if the other person also has rights to the use of the premises; for example, a family member who lives there, or a roommate. It is very important to note that if the police threaten or coerce a person into consenting to a search then it is not considered a consensual search. But it is very difficult to prove that a search was not consensual if you agreed to the search just because you felt intimidated by the police officer. In a situation where a police officer requests your consent to search your person, your car or your home you have the right to refuse. If you consent to the search your lawyer will have a tough time in Court convincing a Judge that you did not consent.


Remember that the police do not need a search warrant if they legally stop a vehicle and discover something illegal inside the vehicle that is in plain view. Also, searches conducted incident to a lawful arrest are legal. This means an officer is allowed to search the person arrested in order to remove any weapons in the interest of the officer’s safety, and to seize any evidence on the person in order to prevent the destruction or concealment of such evidence. This rule extends past the arrestee’s person to the area in which an arrestee may be able to reach into to obtain a weapon or destroy evidence. The rule even includes searching any containers inside the vehicle; however, it does not extend to the trunk.


If you feel that the police searched your home or car in violation of your rights then you should contact Chester County attorney John P. Winicov. He will provide you with aggressive representation and handle your case with the care it deserves. Contact him Online or Call 610-692-2096 for a consultation.



John P. Winicov conveniently represent clients in Chester, Delaware, Montgomery and Philadelphia Counties. Our office is easily accessible by public transportation.

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