When people own property in Tennessee they generally decide who will be allowed on the property at any given time. Other people are not allowed to simply enter their property uninvited and when they do it is considered trespassing. People also have an expectation of privacy when they are inside their homes. They expect that what they do inside their home will not be disclosed to other people, if they do not want it disclosed.

This ability to determine who is on one’s property and their ability to keep what happens inside their home private even extends to the police. People have constitutional protections against unreasonable searches of their property. This means that in many situations the police need a warrant in order to enter a home or search property.

However, there are exceptions to that general rule. These exceptions include:

  • Consent – If people on who are legally on the property consent to a search of the home or property, the police can search it without a warrant.
  • No Reasonable Expectation of Privacy – There are parts of people’s property which are in plain view to anyone passing by and there are things like trash cans which are left out and anyone could open them and look through them. Therefore, in those situations people are not considered to have a reasonable expectation of privacy and police can search those without a warrant.
  • Emergency Situations – If there is an emergency that is created and evidence will be destroyed or suspects will escape during the time it would take to obtain a warrant, police can enter the home without a warrant.
  • Hot Pursuit – If the police are actively chasing a suspect and the suspect enters a home or private property, the police could enter the property to continue to chase the suspect.

The evidence collected from searches of homes leads to many arrests and criminal charges. However, if the police did not have a warrant or the search did not fall into an exception, the search could be determined to be illegal and the evidence collected during the search could be suppressed. Without the evidence obtaining a conviction becomes very unlikely.

There are many people who are arrested for a variety of crimes each year in Tennessee. Not every one of those charges are the result of a search of one’s property, but many are and it is important to know whether the search was legal or not. Consulting with an experienced attorney could be beneficial as people navigate their way through the criminal justice system.