Does a cop have the right to come in my home and search my home if the door is open even if the cops were called for supposed fighting going on?

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Does a cop have the right to come in my home and search my home if the door is open even if the cops were called for supposed fighting going on?

The cops searched my home when no one was present because they said there was supposed fighting going on and they wanted to make sure every one was fine. Once entering they see in plain sight a paraphanillia for marijuana. They told me that they were going to do tests on it and that they could come back and charge me with it. And like I told the cops, it wasn’t even mine! Do the cops have the right to do that?

Asked on June 23, 2009 under Criminal Law, Virginia

Answers:

M.S., Member, Connecticut Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 12 years ago | Contributor

Although I do not practice law in the State of Virginia, the general rule is that the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution prohibits officers from entering a home without a warrant.  However, the warrant requirement is subject to some exceptions, several of which include exigent circumstances and the plain view doctrines.  Thus, entering pursuant to a reported fight and then finding contraband in plain view may not be a violation of the fourth amendment.  However, this is a highly complicated and constantly changing area of the law.  Moreover, if the officers did, in fact, violate the fourth amendment, all of the evidence that they obtained as a result of an illegal search and seizure would potentially be subject to suppression.  Therefore, I highly recommend that you consult with and or retain a criminal defense attorney to both discuss the strength of the state's evidence as well as the merits of any and all potential defenses that may be available to you in the interest of obtaining the most favorable resolution of this matter as possible.


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