As a general rule, what the police can see from a road or public sidewalk can be seized by them without violating someone’s constitutional rights. What this means is that leaving an illegal explosive device out in the open on your kitchen table so it is clearly visible to anyway, including police, from the sidewalk is visible from the sidewalk is probably not a good idea.
When evidence of a crime is not in plain view, the Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires allows police to conduct a search of your home or apartment if they first obtain a search warrant. Allegations of criminal conduct may rise to the level of probable cause that would allow a judge to issue a warrant.
Probable cause for a search means that police have reason to believe that evidence exists in the location to be searched to support a criminal charge. The standard requires that police have facts to support their belief so that it is more likely than not that evidence of a crime will be found.
The Constitution states that search warrants must be specific as to the location to be searched and the evidence being sought. For example, if police show up with a warrant to search your home, the detached garage would generally be off limits. Of course, the police can ask a judge to amend the warrant or issue a new warrant if probable cause develops to justify a search of locations other than just the house.
The laws and rules pertaining to searches and seizures for evidence to support a felony or misdemeanor can be complex. A criminal defense attorney might be your best source of guidance if you believe that criminal charges against you are based upon illegally obtained evidence.