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Can Police Execute A Warrantless Search If They Suspect A Drug Offense?


It’s a very rare circumstance where a search can be conducted without a warrant. Reasonable suspicion definitely allows for officers to essentially start that investigative process where they can pull you over or start asking you questions; but before doing all of this, you are obviously entitled to have an attorney present and make that request known. However, there may be exigent circumstances, which mean some very unique and extreme reasons where law enforcement feels they need access to a scene immediately; otherwise, if they have some evidence to point to suspicion about drugs being in the car or in a home, they are going to have to get a warrant.

One of the most common things, when it comes to drugs, is that there is an immediate concern that those drugs could be destroyed while law enforcement gets a warrant, and that’s still a situation where it has to be very apparent that that’s likely to happen or it’s happening as we speak. If that’s the case, then there may be an opportunity for an officer to disregard getting a warrant at the time. It’s a really wide open area, and it’s often litigated as to whether there was reasonable suspicion or enough without a warrant to search cars or search homes. Almost never in a home situation are you going to just be able to go in without a warrant.

It would be very unusual to see that unless there was some other type of crime being committed as well, and that often happens if there’s a violent crime and somebody flees to a home. The home may be accessed without a warrant, and evidence of other crimes, maybe drugs, could be found as well. That’s one of those situations where a warrant is not going to be required to still prosecute the obvious crimes, such as drugs out on the table, when the cops go in for something else.

With a car, it’s almost always going to require a warrant although we see the drug unit come out with drug sniffing dogs and things like that, but to access a part of the car that no permission has been given for is typically going to require a warrant, and police can typically get one.

Can A Passenger Be Charged If Drugs Are Discovered In The Vehicle?

Yes. As a passenger in a vehicle, even if it’s not your vehicle, constructive possession is applied. In this case, if there are drugs in the car and there is more than one person in the car who has access to the drugs, then potentially, depending on the amount and what other evidence is gathered about who it may belong to, definitely more than one person can be charged.

What Is The General Timeline Of A Drug-Related Case?

Drug-related cases are similar to any other case. When you’re talking about just misdemeanor charges, from start to finish, you’re usually looking at anywhere from three to six months, and that’s standard for a misdemeanor case, depending on the breadth of issues that may present themselves. If it’s fairly straightforward, then it could definitely be on the shorter end of that. Felony cases, for drug possession, could be in that four to six months’ range; and when it goes up to sale, it definitely complicates things.

All of it depends on whether there are legal issues to litigate as well, typically involving search and seizure and testing an amount of drugs to do a comparative lab report, and all of that can definitely expand the life of the case, which sometimes goes well over a year.

Much of it is dependent on what the legal issues in the case are and will they be litigated or are they just going to help us negotiate, and so I’d say from a very simple drug case, a couple of months, to a more complex sale and trafficking case to even large amounts can definitely push the year boundary for sure.

For more information on Executing A Warrantless Search In Arizona, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (602) 456-1982 today.

Jared Allen, Esq.

Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20 min phone consultation (602) 456-1982.

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