Probation officers are sworn police officers who are charged with monitoring people on probation. People on probation have somewhat more limited rights regarding how and when officers may enter their homes.
Probation officers are generally allowed to enter your home and conduct basic searches as part of your probation. Probation officers often conduct home visits where they conduct brief searches for anything that violates the terms of probation. Ordinarily, an officer needs a warrant to conduct a full search, but probation officers need only reasonable suspicion and may conduct the search without a warrant. Warrantless searches and the need only for reasonable suspicion are usually part of the agreed upon probation terms. Any contraband found by the probation officer may be used to justify an arrest and new criminal charges. Even if the probation officer does not find any contraband, they might notice changes in your home indicating criminal activity, and you could be arrested for violating your probation.
If you are on probation and believe a probation officer overstepped their boundaries in your home, call our Philadelphia criminal defense attorneys immediately. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.
Are Probation Officers in Pennsylvania Allowed to Search Your Home?
If you are on probation, your probation officers are typically allowed to enter your home without a warrant. Home visits are ordinary parts of probation. In fact, the terms of probation often explicitly include home visits from probation officers. The point of probation is being extensively monitored by law enforcement to ensure no further criminal activity. As such, people on probation cannot expect the same level of privacy they once had, and probation officers may come to their homes regularly.
While probation officers are allowed to search your home, this search is not the same as a search under a warrant as part of a criminal investigation. For a typical search to be lawful, the police need probable cause and a search warrant. Probation officers operate under a less strict rule that requires reasonable suspicion, which is not as rigorous as probable cause. Not only that, but no search warrant is necessary as probation offers are permitted to enter and search your home under the terms that you agreed to as part of your probation.
For normal home visits, probation officers do not need warrants. Depending on the terms of your probation, these visits might be scheduled or unscheduled. Although probation officers are not necessarily conducting extensive searches for contraband, any contraband found may be used to justify reasonable suspicion for a more extensive search or even probable cause for an arrest. Our Bucks County criminal defense lawyers can help you fight any charges that result from home visits.
Do Probation Officers Need Warrants for Home Visits in Pennsylvania
Typically, no search warrant is needed when probation officers conduct home visits. Although some level of searching and investigating is part of a home visit, the probation officer normally does not need a warrant first. Probationers are usually on notice that searches are part of the terms of their probation.
Probation officers are primarily concerned with making sure you adhere to the terms of your probation. Home visits and searches aim to check for signs or evidence of a probation violation. Exactly what probation officers might be looking for during home visits might depend on the nature and terms of your probation.
For example, if a person is on probation related to DUI charges, they might be restricted from alcohol while on probation. A probation officer might be looking for alcohol containers in the home or signs of intoxication in the probationer. If no signs of a probation violation are found, there is no reason for the probation officer to search further. If you believe your probationer officer took a home visit too far and violated your rights, call our Delaware County criminal defense attorneys immediately.
When Searches by Probation Officers Go Too Far in Pennsylvania
It can be difficult for probationers to know when a probation officer is taking a home visit too far and conducting an illegal search. Even if a probationer knows an illegal search is happening, there might not be much they can do to stop the probation officer. If you are facing new charges or charges for probation violations because a probation officer conducted an illegal search, call our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers for help right away.
A search by a probation officer might go too far if they conduct an extensive search of your home with no reasonable suspicion. While searches are a normal part of home visits, the probation officer should not be totally ransacking your home unless they have a reason. If the probation officer cannot articulate any reasonable suspicion for the search, we can argue that the search was unlawful.
You should contact an attorney about your situation if a home visit by a probation officer leads to new criminal charges or a probation violation. Our Montgomery criminal defense lawyers can help you suppress evidence found in your home as part of an unlawful search so it cannot be used against you in a new criminal case or as part of a probation violation case.
Can the Police Search Your Home Based on the Probation Officer’s Findings in Pennsylvania?
There is sometimes an overlap between home visits conducted by probation officers and full searches conducted by the police with a warrant. Probation officers do not need any probable cause or consent to search a probationer’s home, as it is an inherent part of the terms of probation. However, the probation officer needs reasonable suspicion of a probation violation to justify a more extensive search.
In some cases, probation officers inadvertently discover evidence of a new crime during home visits. That evidence might establish sufficient reasonable suspicion for a search warrant, and a more extensive search may be imminent. It might be hard to determine if or when the probation officer crossed a line and violated your rights. Our Northeast Philadelphia criminal defense lawyers can review your case and determine if the police and probation officer overstepped legal boundaries when they performed the search.
Call Our Pennsylvania Criminal Defense Lawyers for a Free Case Evaluation
Searches by probation officers are normal parts of being on probation and do not usually require a warrant. If you believe the officers on your case took their search too far, call our Pennsylvania criminal defense lawyers for help. For a free case review, call The Law Offices of Lloyd Long at (215) 302-0171.