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Questionable Search Warrants Mentioned in IL Story About Alleged Misconduct


Residents who habitually follow CBS News Chicago may have noticed a recent piece that focused on police misconduct records and the ongoing battle over their disposal. It appeared at the end of November 2015 and mentioned incidents of alleged, illegal searches of residents’ homes. Given that discussion, it is crucial residents take the time to understand as much as possible about search warrants, including their execution.

Here are some highlights:

When it comes to people’s homes and related curtilage, there are generally only a handful of instances when law enforcement officers may legally bypass the search warrant process. These include situations that may be deemed emergencies as well as those where consent, expressed or implied, is given by someone in the home. Such actions are usually referred to as warrantless searches.

Their legality may be contested after the fact by criminal defense attorneys familiar with both state and federal laws. However, it is far better to refuse law enforcement access to the property at the outset as well as avoid being caught up in potentially incriminating situations. For example, it isn’t prudent for residents to leave house sitters at home without informing them not to let law enforcement officers enter the property without a warrant.

Furthermore, residents should be aware that search warrants are typically not all-encompassing. As a matter of law, they are meant to be specific. So if evidence isn’t in plain view, or in areas designated by the search warrant, it may prove to be inadmissible in court. The facts of each case will obviously play a role in this. Examples of just how vital the facts are to a person’s defense may be found in previous cases such as Illinois v. Rodriguez (1990), Illinois v. McArthur (2001) and Illinois v. Burns (2015).

To learn more about the current state of search warrant laws and how to protect oneself against illegal acts, please contact the Law Office of Steven Fine.