Q: Is it legal in PA to search a room without a search warrant? I was at home and a relative called the cops, let them in, and they searched my room. Once with my girlfriend present then again when we were both out of the room. I was told they can only search my room if they had a warrant, or if it was in plain sight, which it was not. I also did not give consent. (Oakland, PA)

A: The legal presumption in PA is that all searches of homes and cars must be done with a search warrant. Even if the home was someone else’s and you are renting or staying there, you still may have a right of privacy in that living space and thus have legal standing to challenge the search. Whether you would win on a suppression motion depends on many factors and is very fact specific. What do the police say in their report? Can the police rely on any exemption to the warrant requirement? Did you consent to the search? Did the police have an exigent circumstances to assert the would legally circumvent the warrant requirement. There are many more questions. You need to review all of the evidence with a criminal defense attorney who is versed in constitutional challenges of illegal search and seizures.

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