What is a “protective sweep”?

As a Jacksonville Criminal Lawyer, I come across many cases where the police enter someone’s home. Even though there are strict rules on how JSO can enter a home, they are not always followed.

Generally, the police can’t enter someone’s home without a warrant signed by a judge. Warrantless searches are considered, under the 4th Amendment to the Constitution, unreasonable, subject to certain exceptions. Police can’t go into a dwelling without a warrant absent consent or exigent circumstances.

One way police justify getting into a house without a warrant is to conduct a “protective sweep”. A protective sweep is a quick and limited search of the premises, incident to an arrest and conducted to protect the safety of the officers or others. Whether the arrest is made inside or outside the house, the police can conduct a fast and cursory search of the house when they have reasonable grounds to believe that there are other people inside who might present a security risk or who may destroy evidence.