When law enforcement in California needs to search an individual’s property, there are certain laws they must follow. They are permitted to do a reasonable search and seizure, with “reasonable” defined as having a reason to believe that there will be evidence of a crime.

This often means going before a judge to get a search warrant. Search warrants may be limited in scope but may permit additional searching in some circumstances, such as if officers looking for stolen property see drugs out in plain sight. A protective sweep allows officers to check hiding places for people if they are taking someone into custody but not places where people could not hide. Voluntary, un-coerced consent can also give law enforcement limited scope to search an area, such as a garage. Trash put out at the curb and other areas where there is no expectation of privacy can be searched without a warrant.

There are provisions that allow police to enter a residence in an emergency. For example, they might be responding to a 911 call, or they might witness illegal activity through a window. They can also chase a suspect into a residence. Evidence obtained illegally could be dismissed in a court case. Law enforcement also cannot use a piece of illegal evidence to find further evidence.

People who are facing drug-related charges, burglary charges, assault or other charges may want to talk to an attorney. The attorney may examine whether the individual’s rights were observed in the course of the investigation and while being taken into custody. Errors might occur in handling and testing any forensic samples related to the case. There may be other avenues of defense available as well, so the attorney may work with the individual to develop a strategy for a court trial.