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Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C.
630-472-9700Available 24/7

Warrantless Searches of a Home in the State of Illinois

search warrant, home search, Illinois criminal defense attorney, Chicago criminal defense lawyer, Chicagoland attorneyUnder the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution, which prohibits unreasonable searches and seizures of one’s property, as well as under Illinois law, law enforcement accordingly is not allowed to conduct a search of a home without a court-issued warrant to do so, except under very limited circumstances. A warrant is a formal order issued by a judge that permits and instructs a law enforcement officer to enter a premises and conduct a search for evidence or to arrest a suspect. It is issued on a showing of probable cause that the search is in furtherance of a criminal investigation.

Entering without a Warrant

Under Illinois law and U.S. constitutional law, law enforcement officers may enter a home in instances of an emergency. The following scenarios serve as exceptions to the need for a warrant to search a home:

  • Police may have probable cause to believe that a suspect they seek within the home will more than likely escape if they do not enter the home;
  • Law enforcement must also have probable cause to believe that the person they seek is actually in or around the home;
  • Law enforcement may enter a home without a warrant while in “hot pursuit” of a suspect. This means that a suspect they are tracking by car or foot may eventually run into a home to hide or as another avenue to escape. In such circumstances, in order to effectively pursue and capture the suspect, law enforcement must be able to enter that home;
  • Law enforcement will also have grounds to go into homes without a warrant where there is not sufficient time to obtain a warrant from a judge, and given the severity of a crime committed or the imminence of one the police believe will be committed, such an emergency will permit a warrantless entry;
  • Entry without a warrant is also permissible where there is probable cause to believe that evidence incident to a crime will be destroyed if the police do not act by entering the home and seizing that material; and
  • In instances where a homeowner consents to the search, law enforcement may enter without a warrant.

If police ask you for consent to search your home, you have the constitutional right to say “no.” And, you should say "No".  Saying “yes” will allow them to search even if they would have needed a warrant without your permission.  And, any illegal contraband or drug paraphernalia they see in "plain sight" could lead to your arrest even if the officers are not there to investigate you or possible criminal charges of any kind.

Speak with an Attorney in Chicago

When law enforcement officials conduct a warrantless search of your property, it is important to calmly express your objection, but do not try to physically prevent the search or seizure of items. Instead, it is advisable to take note of where and when the search occurred, any tangible items involved, as well as names and descriptions of the officers. If you believe that your home was improperly entered or searched by law enforcement without a warrant, you must know your rights and must be prepared to defend against the use of the results of that search in a prosecution against you. Contact Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. at 630-472-9700 for a free consultation. We work with clients all around Chicago, including Oak Brook, Naperville, and many other areas.

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