Search Warrant Exceptions


Search Warrant Exceptions


A search warrant is needed to enter and search premises legally. The law does not allow forceful entry without permission. Therefore, the police should obtain a search warrant to access premises. Exception to search warrants includes the following;

Hot Pursuit

The law allows police officers to undertake a warrantless search in certain exigent circumstances where obtaining a warrant for search would not be possible or even dangerous.  A major case in the exigent circumstance is the hot pursuit of Hayden who had robbed a taxi company office. The quick action by the police was able to find the suspect and the evident against him. If the police had delayed in their response, the suspect would have had enough time to tamper or conceal nay incriminating evidence.

Rejecting the crime scene investigation

Rejecting the crime scene investigation is another exception. This arises when there is an overhaul of the house in search of evidence, thereby, neglecting the privacy of the suspect.

Motor Vehicle Exception

The Supreme Court has over the years held that people travelling in a motor vehicle should not expect much privacy because a vehicle is not the same as a residence or repositories of personal effects. A vehicle can be stopped and searched at random if there is a probable suspicion of a criminal activity.  The police can seize items in plain view and areas that could potentially hide weapon or contrabands can be searched.  If the police suspect some evidence could be found in the vehicle, they have a right to search any area of the vehicle. The Carroll v. United States is a foundation case in the motor vehicle exigency circumstance. The Carroll rule requires that police have a probable cause to believe that  a vehicle is carrying contraband and if it is not stopped and searched, the vehicle will be driven off if not seized immediately.

Border Search Exception

Searches at the border or international airports can be undertaken without any warrant of arrest subject to the border search exception. Such searches are mostly conducted at random, without any level of suspicion. However, if a search intrudes on a persons’ dignity and privacy, it should be supported by reasonable suspicion.  One major case in this rule is the United States v. Ramsey (1977) which described border searches as reasonable.
Rejecting the crime scene exception is the weakest because evidence that would have incriminated the suspect is lost. The police, in this case, break the Fourth Amendment by prying on the privacy of the suspect. It is necessary to get important evidence that can incriminate the suspect. Indeed, a suspect can easily get away with this exception.
Coming up with search warrant exceptions becomes important in impounding or getting evidence that would have been difficult to obtain. Search warrants concerning motorcycles can be of great help in dealing with crime. Motorcycles have been plenty over the recent years and it would prove helpful if the police heighten their warrantless such on motorbikes (Schneid & Schneid, 2011).

Other search exceptions that would be of great help are to search groups on the market that may be considered engaging in drugs. These searches will lead to reduction in crime and prevent others from engaging in crime. Police should engage in searches along the streets involving people who have been involved in crime or are suspects (Carmen, 2014).


The search warrant exceptions are very important in fighting against crime. The exceptions help police to get evidence that would have gotten lost through the delay caused by waiting for a search warrant. Thus, the exceptions help to justice that would have been denied by waiting for the arrest warrant.



Carmen, R. V. (2014). Criminal procedure: law and practice. New York: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

Carroll v. United States, 267 U.S. 132, 144 (1925).

Emanuel, S. (2009). Criminal procedure. London: Wolters Kluwer,

Schneid, T. D., & Schneid, T. D. (2011). Legal liabilities in safety and loss prevention: a practical guide. Sudbury: Jones and Bartlett Publishers.

United States v. Ramsey – 431 U.S. 606 (1977)





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