If I am arrested on the street or in an establishment, can the police search my car or house?

In most cases, no.

The general rule is that the police may search an arrested person and the area within their immediate control.  For safety reasons, when you are arrested, the police may search you, and your wallet, purse, or anything you have with you.  If you are in your kitchen, the police can probably search the kitchen, but not your whole house.  If you are arrested in your car, the police do not need a warrant to search the passenger compartment of the car (back seat, glove box, etc.), but they may need one to search the trunk.

But if the police pull you out of a club, or arrest you in your driveway, the area is limited as to where they can search without a warrant.

If you are arrested in your front yard, the police cannot go in your house at all.  But they are very good at getting what they want.  They may try to expand the scope of a permissible search by telling you that you can “go on back in your house and get your driver’s license, or leave some food for your dog.”  At that point they can escort you into the house, and can search and seize whatever may be in plain view.  They have just vastly expanded their ability to collect evidence on you, and you thought they were doing you a favor.

Search and seizure issues are a large part of criminal law.  But did you notice how I hedged this discussion with “probably,” “may,” and “In most cases”?  As with most everything, the law is going to be dependent on the facts of your specific case, so if you have  a potential search and seizure issue in Mississippi call me at 601-991-1099.  If you live outside of Jackson, Mississippi, call my Toll-Free Line at 866-991-1555.

Or you can e-mail me at clarence@guthriefirm.com.