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Can the police search your hotel room?

When the police investigate a crime, they have to operate within the parameters of state and federal laws. Whether it is your home or a hotel room, the police have procedures to follow when searching your personal space.

The Fourth Amendment protects you against searches without a warrant. It also disallows any evidence the police may obtain in an illegal search from becoming evidence against you. Even if you are in a hotel room, the police do not have the right to violate this vital civil right.

Does consent from an employee count?

There are specific legal means that hotel operators and employees operate within. An employee cannot enter or give access to your room without a warrant. If the police gain access to your room via a hotel employee, anything they find due to the trespass may not hold up in court. The only time a hotel employee may access your room without your permission is if they believe you vacated it. The same standard holds for police without a warrant.

What are exigent circumstances?

Sometimes, the police gain entry into a residence or hotel room by citing exigent circumstances. This means that they entered the space because they believed someone inside was in danger. Usually, the police must hear or see something that gives them access under these emergency conditions. During a sweep of the room, they may collect evidence that is in plain sight. However, if no emergency existed to justify the entry, they may wait for a warrant and bar you from the room.

Paying for a hotel room gives you the right to expect privacy. As such, the police should obtain a warrant to search it, as they do for your home, workplace or vehicle.

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