Searches On Persons On Probation And Parole In Missouri

probation searches

In Missouri, offenders on probation and parole are obligated to submit to warrantless searches by probation or parole officers throughout the period that they are under state supervision. As a condition of placing an offender on probation or parole, the offender is required to give up their normal 4th Amendment rights which protect citizens from unreasonable searches by the police. A probation or parole officer does not need probable cause to conduct a search on the body, car or residence of an offender on probation or parole.

Missouri courts can subject persons on probation and parole to various probation search conditions depending on the nature of the crime committed and other factors. The court may require an offender to submit to any search at any time by a probation or parole officer. Under this condition, the officer doesn’t require reasonable suspicion or probable cause to conduct the search.

Reasonable suspicion

A person on probation or parole in Missouri can be subjected to a warrantless search on the basis of reasonable suspicion. In this case, an officer can perform a reasonable search on the offender at reasonable times. The officer must reasonably believe that the offender may have committed a crime or is in possession of contraband.

Drug or weapon search condition

In most cases, this probation condition applies to persons convicted of drug-related crimes. Under this condition, a probation or parole officer in Missouri is required to conduct a search on a person, their possessions, car, or home if the officer reasonably suspects that the probationer or parolee is in possession of drugs or weapons. This condition only allows officers to search for drugs or weapons, not evidence of other crimes.

In case a probation or parole officer finds contraband on an offender during a search, the officer can seize the items and present them as evidence of a violation of probation conditions. This could lead to additional charges and a potential jail time.

Reasonable suspicion to conduct a search on a probationer in Missouri may arise from:

  • An informant tipping the probation or parole officer that a probationer or parolee is in possession of contraband, has committed a crime or has violated probation conditions.
  • The probationer or parolee residing at a residence the probation or parole officer didn’t approve.
  • The smell of marijuana at the probation’s or parolee’s residence.

With regard to the scope of a probationer’s or parolee’s home that can be searched, Missouri laws allow officers to search the entire house or parts of the house that are accessible to the offender as a tenant.

Sex offender probationers and parolees in Missouri are subjected to additional search conditions whereby they are required to allow the officer to inspect any electronic equipment for inappropriate content.

Generally, searches of probationers and parolees in Missouri should adhere to the following requirements:

  • The probationer or parolee must be the target of the search.
  • The search must be based on the grounds of an enforceable and legitimate probation condition that allows for a warrantless search.
  • The search must be conducted by the probation or parole officer who is assigned to determine if the probationer or parolee is in compliance or violation.
  • The search must be conducted in an appropriate and reasonable manner and with the appropriate purpose, meaning it should not be arbitrary.

In some cases, Missouri courts can impose unfair and invasive probation search conditions on persons on probation and parole. With the help of a reputable criminal defense attorney in Missouri, a defendant can be able to avoid draconian probation search conditions by objecting at sentencing hearing. An experienced Missouri criminal defense lawyer can advise whether objecting to a search condition is a good or bad idea. If the case involves a guilty plea, the defense attorney can negotiate with the prosecution before the plea for modification or elimination of a search condition that could be invasive.