Typically, the police may not conduct a warrantless search of a home. The warrant must specify what the police are looking for and at what location they are likely to find it. The search is limited to areas where it is reasonable to believe the item may be found.
Police are allowed to search a home without a warrant in two circumstances: if an occupant agrees to the search or if there is probable cause to believe that exigent circumstances exist, such as:
- The police have reason to believe someone’s life is in danger.
- A suspect is about to escape.
- Someone might destroy the evidence (e.g., flush illegal drugs down the toilet).
If there is no time to get a warrant from the court, the police are allowed to search a home without permission.