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|When Can the Police Search My Home or Car?||
Last updated: October 2007
A warrant is an order, issued by a judge, instructing a police officer to search a certain place or to arrest a particular person. A judge has to decide if a warrant should be issued or not. Sometimes the police must get a warrant to conduct a search or make an arrest; other times they do not have to.
In order for the police to use a warrant, it must particularly describe the:
Do the police need a warrant to search my home?
In most cases, police officers cannot enter your home without a warrant. The type of warrant the police have can affect their rights to search certain parts of your home.
Law enforcement officers can only enter your home without a warrant if:
Usually, the police do not need a warrant to search a car. The rules for entering or searching a car are very different from the rules for searching your home. In order to legally search a car, the police need either:
"Consent" means permission. If you tell the police that it is okay to enter your house or car, you are giving them consent.
In some cases, the police may ask for your consent to search something. You have a right to say "no" to a search! If you give the police consent to search, they do not need a warrant, even if they otherwise would have needed one.
If you think a search is taking place illegally, you can voice your concerns by saying "No" or "I do not consent". However, do not physically try to stop law enforcement officers from entering or searching your home or car.
As soon as possible after the search, write down all of the details that you can remember, including the:
You should then contact a lawyer to discuss the situation. Search the "Helpful Organizations" section below to find free legal help.
Contact your city or county to file a damage claim.
The City of Chicago's Damage Claims Department can be contacted at 312.744.6870.
For a list of organizations in your area that may be able to help you, enter your zip code.
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