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  • Writer's pictureSamantha Gahn

Louisiana Search Warrant Exceptions

Metairie Criminal Defense Attorney
Louisiana Warrants

Metairie Criminal Defense Attorney

Let's face it, nobody enjoys the thought of police rummaging through their belongings. Thankfully, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution acts like a bodyguard, protecting us from unreasonable searches and seizures by law enforcement. It is a sense of security in our homes, cars, and property we own.

A key part of this protection is the search warrant. Imagine it as a judge's permission slip, allowing officers to enter a specific location and search for evidence of a crime. But here's the catch: to get this permission slip ( the warrant) , the police need to convince the judge there's a good reason -  probable cause. This means they have a reasonable belief that a crime happened and evidence of it can be found at that specific spot.

Now, things can get a little tricky. While search warrants are generally required, Louisiana law recognizes a few exceptions where a warrant might not be necessary. Knowing these exceptions can be handy if you ever find yourself in a situation where the police want to search you or your stuff.

Exceptions to Law Enforcement Needing A Warrant

There are a few situations where the warrant rule gets bent a bit. Here are four common exceptions in Louisiana:


This one boils down to permission. If you freely and voluntarily give the police the go-ahead to search your car or home, they can do it without a warrant. But here's the kicker: you have the absolute right to say NO.  If you're unsure or uncomfortable, politely but firmly decline any search requests. Remember, silence isn't the same as saying yes. Do not feel pressured to say yes to prove you are not guilty of anything. 


Plain View

Picture this: the police are called to your house for a noise complaint. While they're there, they spot drugs and drug paraphernalia right out in the open on the coffee table. This could also include if you get pulled over while driving and the officer spots any type of illegal substance or paraphernalia. In this case, the "plain view" exception allows them to grab that evidence without a warrant.  There's a catch though. The evidence needs to be immediately obvious as something illegal, and the officers need to be in a place where they have a legal right to be in the first place. They can't use plain view as an excuse to go on a full-blown search.

Open Fields

The concept of privacy gets a bit fuzzy in areas where we don't necessarily expect complete privacy. Think public parks or farmland. These "open fields" generally fall under this category. This applies especially if evidence of a crime can be viewed from a helicopter. Law enforcement can search open fields without a warrant if they have probable cause to believe evidence of a crime is there.  However, it's important to note that this exception may not apply to your backyard or the area right around your house, which generally enjoys a higher expectation of privacy.


Ever tossed out a bag of trash filled with old receipts? Once you get rid of something and give up control of it, you're giving up your expectation of privacy in it as well. That's the idea behind the "abandoned property" exception.  If you abandon property, the police can search and seize it without a warrant. But figuring out if something is truly abandoned can be tricky.  If you're unsure, talking to an attorney can help clarify things based on your specific situation.

 Hot Pursuit 

  The hot pursuit exception allows warrantless entry during an active chase to apprehend a suspect or secure evidence. This applies when the pursuit is continuous, initiated from a lawful location with probable cause, and the urgency outweighs the need for a warrant. However, it can't be a pretext for a search, the scope must be limited, and ends when the threat is neutralized.


Knowledge is Power

These exceptions have limitations and can get complicated. A criminal defense attorney  can give you crucial advice on whether an exception applies in your specific case.

Just because you are being accused of a crime does not mean your rights go away. Moisant Law Firm has dealt with many cases in which it was proved that law enforcement were not within their right to search a property , therefore making the evidence inadmissible. Contact Moisant Law Firm today at 225-803-0596 for a free case evaluation. Remember do not wait! You want to a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. 

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