Let’s imagine the following scenario. You have just made toast and are about to spread peanut butter and jelly on your toast when, all of a sudden, you hear a knock on your door. You are not expecting anyone. So you go to the door and ask who it is. You hear, “Open up, it’s police. We need to do a probation search of your home.”
Yes, this scenario is very likely if you were convicted of a crime and are on probation. However, just because you are on probation does not automatically mean that law enforcement officers are allowed to search your home whenever they want.
Our Los Angeles criminal defense attorney at Okabe & Haushalter explains that it is critical that you understand your rights when being placed on the court-ordered probation. Do not let the police enter your home and proceed with the unlawful searches and seizures unless you are 100 percent sure that your rights are not being violated.
Those of you who learned the U.S. Constitution by heart, and particularly the Fourth Amendment, may know that you are protected from unlawful searches and seizures, though many of you do not realize that you may lose this right or it can be significantly limited if you have been convicted of a crime and are on probation.
Our experienced criminal defense attorney in Los Angeles explains that your lose right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures may be suspended until after the end of your probationary period. However, whether or not you actually lose this right depends on whether you were placed on formal or informal probation.
“What’s the difference between formal and informal probation?” you may be wondering. Let us explain. If you have been placed on probation for a felony conviction, you are most likely on formal probation, also known as “supervised probation.” In other words, it means that you have to check in with your probation officer or allow him or her to visit you at any time at your home.
If you have been placed on probation for a misdemeanor conviction, on the other hand, you are most likely on informal probation, also known as “summary probation.” Our Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer explains that one of the conditions of informal probation is that you have to notify the court of your progress every once in a while though you do not have a probation officer.
But when do you lose your right to be free from police searches of your home and car when placed on probation? More often than not, one of the conditions of formal probation is that your probation officer may randomly show up at your home to proceed with a search.
Is it legal? Yes, perfectly legal, as your probation officer has the legal authority to do that. In fact, the officer has the authority to search any of the rooms you use, including your bedroom and bathroom. More often than not, probation officers do not need the warrant to search your home when you were placed on probation for a felony conviction.
Also, the probation officer has the legal authority to search your car unless you were placed on informal probation. In that case, your right to be free from unlawful searches and seizures is not suspended, so if a police officer knocks on your door and demands to search your home, you can politely inform the officer that you know your rights and that you do not give your permission to conduct the search.
In that case, the officer will need to either obtain a warrant or forget about your existence. If police officers try to search your home or car while on probation, it is advised to consult with a Los Angeles criminal defense lawyer to learn your rights. Contact Okabe & Haushalter for a free case evaluation. Call our offices at 310-430-7799.