The home is given special reverence by laws that aim to protect privacy. Almost all of the time, you have the right to enjoy the privacy of your own home without interference from the public or the government. However, if you have been accused of a criminal act, your rights in your home become somewhat curtailed.
While your home is a very private place protected by law, the police may be authorized to enter, seize property, or arrest you. Even so, the police may only do these things under very specific conditions, and their authority is often limited by a warrant or the nature of the situation. If law enforcement acted unlawfully, your arrest might be illegal, and any evidence taken may be suppressed and cannot be used against you.
If you feel the police have violated your rights in your home, the best thing you can do is contact an experienced Salt Lake City illegal search and seizure attorney like those at Overson Law, PLLC, who can advise you of your options. Call us at (801) 758-2287 for a free case evaluation.
Do I Have to Open the Door and Talk to the Police at My Home in Utah?
Dealing with law enforcement can be difficult. Many people find it very difficult to say no or otherwise challenge a police officer’s authority, even if they believe the officer is wrong. It is important to remember that when an officer approaches your home, you do not always have to open your door and speak with them. However, you must interact with the officers and possibly let them into your home in some cases.
To determine if you have to open your door and speak with the police, you should ask yourself some important questions. First, do the police officers have a warrant? If they have a warrant to search your home or take you into custody, you must open the door and speak to them. If this is the case, contact our Utah illegal search and seizure attorneys for help immediately.
If there is no warrant, you should ask the officers if you are being detained. While most detentions involve being handcuffed and taken to a police station for questioning, this is not always the case. It is possible to be detained anywhere, even in your own home. Ask the officers at your door if you are being detained or if you are free to leave. If you are not detained, you do not have to open your door or speak to the officers. In either case, you should contact a lawyer right away.
Do I Have to Leave My Home if I Have Been Arrested in Utah?
Police can arrest you in one of two scenarios. First, if they have a valid arrest warrant, they can place you under arrest at any time and place. This includes your home. However, they are required to follow the “knock and announce” rule and give you a chance to open the door before they barge in to make the arrest. If you surrender at the door, they cannot enter your home and conduct a search unless they have a search warrant. If you fail to surrender to police with a valid arrest warrant, they can enter your home and escort you out. If you are hiding, they will be permitted to search anywhere in the home you may be hiding and seize any potential evidence they come across.
Police can also arrest when they have probable cause based on the fact that they just saw you commit the crime or when someone else provides them with evidence that you just committed the crime. You cannot outrun the police by entering your home. One of the few times the police may enter your home without a search warrant is during a “hot pursuit” chase to take you into custody. Again, once you use the home to hide from the authorities, anything they see in the home while pursuing you can be seized and used as evidence against you.
In the scenarios mentioned above, it might be a good idea to surrender to police arrest without giving them the chance to enter your home. There is no escaping if the police want to execute a valid arrest. If you believe the arrest is invalid, like the arrest warrant is faulty, you can contact a Salt Lake City criminal defense attorney while in police custody. Cooperating with law enforcement means they will probably not force you out of your home and violate your privacy with an invasive search.
What Are the Limits of a Warrant in Utah?
While a warrant grants law enforcement officials a lot of power, this power is not without limits. Warrants of any kind must be obtained according to very strict rules and procedures. Any deviation from these rules may render a warrant invalid, and a search, seizure, or arrest might be unlawful. If you believe the warrant in your case was invalid, contact our Utah illegal search and seizure attorneys for assistance.
Search Warrant Limits in Utah
One important rule regarding search warrants is the Four Corners Rule. Under this rule, the police are only permitted to search areas specifically mentioned in the warrant. If a particular location is not contained within the four corners of the warrant, it is off-limits.
For example, if the police have a warrant that allows them to search your home, but the shed in your back yard is not mentioned anywhere in the warrant, the police may not search the shed. Our Utah illegal search and seizure attorneys can review the warrant in your case and make sure the police did not search any off-limits locations.
The police also need proof or information that supports their claims that evidence of a crime will be found at the search location. A search cannot be made on a hunch or arbitrarily. There must be sufficient probable cause to support the warrant.
Arrest Warrant Limits in Utah
Depending on your charges, there may be limits on the time of day an arrest warrant can be executed. According to Utah Code § 77-7-5(2), an arrest warrant for a felony charge may be executed any time of day or night. For a misdemeanor, the warrant can only be executed during the day unless certain conditions are present.
An arrest warrant for a misdemeanor may be executed at night if the judge who signed off on the warrant specifically authorizes it, the person being arrested is on a public highway or in a public place, or if the police encounter the suspect during their regular course of a criminal investigation for an offense unrelated to the warrant.
Much like search warrants, arrest warrants also require sufficient probable cause. Probable cause is non-specific and may consist of anything, depending on the case. Whatever it is, probable cause must consist of articulable proof or evidence that demonstrates a crime has been committed and the suspect is the perpetrator.
Can the Police Force Me to Leave My Home in Utah in an “Emergency Circumstance?”
When the police force a person to leave their home, it is usually under the authority of a warrant. However, the police can sometimes make you leave your home without a warrant If certain emergency circumstances exist.
An emergency circumstance is when the police are compelled to act immediately. One such example is hot pursuit, meaning the police are actively chasing a fleeing suspect. If the police believe a fleeing, dangerous suspect is in your home, they might enter without a warrant and force you to leave, often for your own safety.
Similarly, the police may enter your home without a warrant if they believe someone inside needs immediate help. Depending on what they find, they might be allowed to force you to leave. For example, if the police find illicit controlled substances once they are inside, they can arrest you and take you to the police station.
Sometimes, the police mistakenly believe a situation constitutes an emergency, and their entrance into your home is unlawful. Our Utah illegal search and seizure lawyers can help you protect yourself if that is the case.
Do I Have to Leave My Home When a Protective Order Has Been Filed Against Me in Utah?
In cases of domestic violence, it is common for a judge to issue an emergency temporary protective order or restraining order against the party alleged to have committed the domestic assault. As soon as you are served with such a protective order, you must stay away from the recipient and can no longer live in the same home.
For example, suppose your spouse calls the police and accuses you of physically abusing them and a judge issues a temporary protective order. In that case, you will have to leave your shared home and go somewhere else. The police will typically allow you to collect some things and then escort you out of the home if you refuse to leave on your own.
A temporary protective order can be extended into a final protective order if the judge finds good cause. This will occur at a hearing within 20 days of issuing the temporary protective order. If a final protective order is granted to someone you live with, you will be forced out of your home in most cases. It is imperative that you have an experienced protective order hearing attorney to defend you at this hearing. Our Utah domestic violence defense lawyers can fight to convince the court that an order forcing you out of your home should not be granted.
Keep in mind that a temporary restraining order may be issued ex-parte, meaning the court can grant it without you being present. However, if a restraining order is going to be made permanent as part of a final order, there must be a hearing on the matter at which both parties are present. At this hearing, you will have an opportunity to challenge the order and remain in your home.
When Can the Police Enter Your Home Without a Warrant in Utah?
Most of the time, the police are required to have a search warrant to enter your home and conduct a search. However, the police can skip the warrant and enter your home under certain emergency circumstances.
The hot pursuit exception allows the police to enter your home if they are chasing you. This is often the case when the police witness the defendant commit a crime, and the defendant attempts to flee and evade arrest. You cannot expect to run into your home and be safe from the police. If they are in hot pursuit, the police can enter your home and take you into custody. You will likely face additional charges for running from the police and evading arrest.
Another exception is the plain view doctrine, which states that if the police see evidence of a crime in plain view, they can enter and seize it. For example, if the police see you bagging up cocaine through an open window, they can enter the home to seize the cocaine. However, the police must lawfully be present for the plain view rule to kick in. That means the police must have had authorization or permission to be at your window when they saw the cocaine to enter and seize it under the plain view doctrine. The police cannot use technology like infrared cameras or spy equipment to try to see inside your home.
What Constitutes Illegal Search and Seizure in Utah?
Numerous circumstances may constitute illegal searches and seizures. If a warrant authorized the search or seizure, any flaws in the warrant might render the police officers’ actions unlawful. For example, if the warrant was not supported by probable cause or the police used false information to justify the warrant, their actions would be illegal.
If no warrant was used, the police must be able to point to a specific exception to the warrant rule that justifies their actions. For example, when illegal contraband is in plain view of an officer, they can often seize it without a warrant. Our Utah illegal search and seizure attorneys can challenge and suppress any seized evidence if no exception exists.
Can the Police Take My Personal Property from My Home in Utah?
The police are permitted to take your personal property from your home, but only under specific circumstances. Typically, the police can only do this if a valid search warrant authorizes the seizure. As mentioned earlier, a valid warrant requires probable cause that evidence of a crime exists in your home.
The warrant must also be very specific about where the police expect to find the evidence. If the police perform the search and do not find what they are looking for, they are not permitted to continue searching other areas not mentioned in the warrant.
The police can also take your personal property without a warrant if special circumstances exist. If the police are lawfully in your home – like if you permit them to enter – and they see evidence of a crime in plain view, they can seize it without a warrant. They may also arrest you at that point. They can also seize evidence they find in an emergency, such as a protective sweep of the premises.
If there is no valid search warrant and no exception to a warrantless seizure, the police cannot take anything from your home. If the police remove your property from your home, you should immediately contact our Utah illegal search and seizure attorneys.
Where Do I Go While the Police Are Searching My House in Utah?
When a search is conducted pursuant to a warrant, the police will usually have to follow the knock and announce rule described earlier in this piece. However, whether or not you answer, they will be permitted to enter the home and conduct a search once they show you the warrant.
You may wish to stay in your home and watch the warrant be executed, but the police are permitted to ask you to step out of your home while they conduct their search. They may even be permitted to handcuff you and detain you outside or in their squad car to ensure “officer safety” while the search is being conducted. This is known as an “investigatory detention.”
These rules, of course, have limits, and an experienced Utah search and seizure attorney can fight a poorly executed warrant if the police fail to follow proper procedure.
There is not much you can do to stop the execution of a valid search warrant. You could end up handcuffed in the back of a squad car or facing charges of obstruction of justice if you attempt to prevent the officers from conducting the search. Also, if they find incriminating evidence, they can come back with an arrest warrant and take you into custody.
When The Police Cannot Remove You From Your Home in Utah
There are several circumstances in which the police may remove you from your home, by force if necessary. However, there are many other situations in which the police are not allowed to force you from your home, even though they may want to. It is critical that you understand your rights and protections. Otherwise, the police may pressure you into letting them in your home.
You Are Not in Police Custody
If the police ever question you, but you have not been taken into custody, you are free to end the questioning any time you wish. It is not unusual for police to show up at a person’s home and ask them questions relating to criminal activity. They might even ask you to go with them to the police station for more questioning.
If you have not been arrested or detained, you are absolutely allowed to say no. The police often rely on people not being fully aware of their rights to make their jobs easier. If you are ever unsure, ask the police if you are in custody or if you are free to leave.
The Arrest Warrant Limits The Police
An arrest warrant authorizes the police to take a person into custody based on probable cause that they committed a crime. Some arrest warrants, usually for more serious crimes like felonies, allow officers to arrest a person at any time and any place, including the person’s home. However, warrants for lesser offenses, like misdemeanors, do not always give the police so much leeway.
The police are sometimes restricted to making arrests only during the daytime and only in certain places. It is possible that the arrest warrant will not allow the police to show up at your home and take you into custody. If the police do arrest you at your home when their warrant does not authorize them to do so, we may challenge the validity of the arrest.
No Emergency or Exigent Circumstances Exist
Suppose the police have not yet taken you into custody and their arrest warrant does not permit them to arrest you at home during certain hours. In that case, they may still be able to enter your home and arrest you if emergency circumstances come up.
An emergency circumstance is when something happens that requires police intervention immediately. Waiting for a warrant or proper authorization could put people or evidence at risk. For example, if the police could enter your home and arrest you if they know you are holding someone hostage in your home. They cannot risk the safety of the hostage by waiting for a new warrant.
The law tends to recognize very specific types of emergencies that would allow the police to enter your home without a warrant. If you do not believe a valid emergency was present, you should speak with our Layton criminal defense attorney for help.
What Should I Do if I Feel My Fourth Amendment Rights Have Been Violated?
If you believe your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated by law enforcement, you should contact an attorney right away. Our Utah illegal search and seizure lawyers can immediately begin working on getting you out of jail if you were arrested. We can also begin preparing motions to suppress any evidence seized in violation of your rights.
Contact Our Salt Lake City Illegal Search and Seizure Lawyers
You typically have the right to exist in your home unbothered by the police. Although there are times when this right is curtailed, the police sometimes go beyond the limits of what they are legally permitted to do with the expectation that you won’t fight back. At Overson Law, PLLC, our experienced Utah criminal defense lawyer is ready and able to challenge instances where the police entered your home and forced you to leave without proper justification. We can also defend you in court on any underlying criminal matters that may have resulted in the removal. If you have been told by the police that you must leave your home, call us today at (801) 758-2328 for a free consultation.