SEARCH WITHOUT WARRANT

LAW EACH WEEK

Under the law, a search warrant is required before a police officer can search a specified place even without the owner’s consent. This rule is subject to a few exceptions.

What are the instances of a valid warrantless search?

1. Visual search is made of moving vehicles at checkpoints

2. Search is an incident to a valid arrest

3. Search of passengers made in airports

4. When things seized are within plain view of a searching party(

5. Stop and frisk (precedes an arrest)(

6. When there is a valid express waiver made voluntarily and intelligently

7. Customs search (

8. Exigent and emergency circumstances. Example: The raid and seizure of firearms and ammunition at the height of the 1989 coup-de-etat. The military operatives had reasonable ground to believe that a crime was being committed, and they had no opportunity to apply for a search warrant from the courts because the latter were closed. (People v. De Gracia, 233 SCRA 716)

The police officers, armed with a warrant of arrest, arrested Juan who was sleeping in his room. The police officers ransacked the locked cabinet where they found a firearm and ammunition. Is the warrantless search and seizure of the firearm and ammunition valid?

A: No. The search exceeded the bounds of what may be considered as an incident to a lawful arrest. A valid arrest allows the seizure of evidence or dangerous weapons either on the person of the one arrested or within the area of his immediate control. The purpose of the exception is to protect the arresting officer from being harmed by the person arrested, who might be armed with a concealed weapon, and to prevent the latter from destroying evidence within reach. In this case, search was made in the locked cabinet which cannot be said to have been within Juan’s immediate control. (Juan v. Court of Appeals, G.R. No. 164815, Sept. 3, 2009)