The 4th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects citizens’ right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures. Police must obtain a search warrant from a judge, although courts have identified exceptions to this rule including emergency situations and items plainly visible to police officers.

Defendants may ask a court to suppress evidence obtained in violation of the Fourth Amendment, which prevents the state from using it in a criminal trial. The exclusionary rule requires courts to suppress evidence obtained through an unlawful search or seizure. Any evidence derived from illegally obtained evidence must also be suppressed. This type of evidence is known as “fruit of the poisonous tree.” 

A police officer seeking a search warrant must establish probable cause to the satisfaction of a judge, must make an “oath or affirmation” as to the truth of the matters supporting probable cause, and must “particularly describe the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized. A search warrant is invalid if it covers too broad an area or does not identify specific items or persons.

The Supreme Court has defined “probable cause” as an officer’s reasonable belief, based on circumstances known to that officer, that a crime has occurred or is about to occur. An officer may establish probable cause with witness statements or confidential informants.  Police must provide the judge or magistrate with information in the form of an affidavit, which reports either police observations, observations of private citizens, or police informants. If the magistrate believes that the affidavit establishes probable cause to conduct a search, he or she will issue a warrant.

Criminal Defense Attorney- Anderson, SC 

Criminal Defense Attorney

Exceptions to Warrant Requirement

CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

115 NORTH Mcduffie  STREET ANDERSON, SC 29621


CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY I DUI DEFENSE ATTORNEY I PERSONAL INJURY ATTORNEY

TRAVIS A. NEWTON LAW P.A.

TRAVIS A. NEWTON CRIMINAL DEFENSE ATTORNEY

Travis Newton Law Firm has defended thousands of clients in South Carolina Summary and General Sessions Courts. Travis Newton has presented oral arguments before the South Carolina Court of Appeals and is an approved Continuing Legal Education (CLE) instructor. Criminal Defense Attorney Newton is Lead Counsel Rated by Thomson Reuters with an Avvo Rating of Ten in the legal practice areas of Criminal Defense, Driving Under the Influence, and Personal Injury. Travis Newton is a founding member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys.

Search Warrant Requirement in Criminal Investigations

Travis Newton Law Firm has defended thousands of clients in South Carolina Summary and General Sessions Courts. Travis Newton has presented oral arguments before the South Carolina Court of Appeals and is an approved Continuing Legal Education (CLE) instructor. Criminal Defense Attorney Newton is Lead Counsel Rated by Thomson Reuters with an Avvo Rating of Ten in the legal practice areas of Criminal Defense, Driving Under the Influence, and Personal Injury. Travis Newton is a founding member of the American Association of Premier DUI Attorneys.

After a defendant has been arrested, the State of South Carolina must formally bring charges, either by filing a complaint or obtaining a grand jury indictment. The court informs the defendant of the charges at the arraignment. Pre-trial proceedings allow the defendant's attorney to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney and may present an opportunity for a plea bargain


If no plea bargain agreement is reached there will be a jury selection unless the defendant chooses to have a bench trial. The state of South Carolina has the burden of proving guilt and will present its evidence and witnesses first. The defendant then has the opportunity to rebut the state’s claims by cross-examination of the state's witnesses and presenting evidence. The judge (bench trial) or jury (jury trial) will determine a verdict. If the jury cannot reach a unanimous verdict, the court will declare a mistrial. If the defendant is found guilty, the judge will determine a sentence.

Terry Stops: Police may stop and frisk a person based on reasonable suspicion that the person has been, is, or will soon be involved in criminal activity. Evidence discovered in the course of what is now known as a Terry stop is admissible, even if police did not have a warrant.


​Plain View exceptions: An officer may seize property that is visible from a location where the officer is lawfully present which includes items that are visible inside of a vehicle during a lawful traffic stop.


Open fields exceptions: defined as open areas of a person’s property that are not directly adjacent to his or her residence, are not protected by the 4th Amendment, and may be searched without a warrant. 


​Exigent Circumstances: Courts have allowed warrantless searches in situations where it would be dangerous to delay a search in order to obtain a warrant including an imminent threat to an officer’s safety or a reasonable belief that a suspect will dispose of or destroy evidence while police are waiting for a warrant.


​Automobile Exception: allows police to search a vehicle without a warrant during the lawful arrest of the driver, but only if they reasonably believe that (1) the person under arrest might still be able to access the vehicle’s passenger compartment, or (2) the vehicle contains evidence relevant to the offense for which they are arresting the person. 


Consent to Search: A police officer does not need a warrant to conduct a search if a person with legal authority over the items or premises consents to a search.