Typically, police must have a search warrant before they can search your home; however, there are a few exceptions. Below is a list of the most common exceptions, but this list is not comprehensive.
(1) Consenting to the Search – If the police ask for your permission to search your home and you allow (in other words, consent to) the search, then they do not need a search warrant and the search is considered legal under the law.
(2) Search Incident to Arrest – If the police are executing an arrest warrant at your home, they can search your home for the person, named in the warrant, and for weapons. This search is considered necessary for officer safety and is a legal search under the law.
(3) Exigent Circumstances – The law recognizes that sometimes, extreme circumstances arise, which make it impossible for the police to obtain a search warrant. For example: if a suspect is being pursued by the police and flees into a home, then the police can go into that home, without a search warrant, and search for the suspect; if the police have good reason to believe that a crime is being committed inside the home, they can go into that home, without a search warrant, to intercept the commission of the crime; if the police have good reason to believe that evidence is being destroyed, they can go into a home, without a search warrant, to prevent the destruction of evidence.