1-10 Search and Seizure

Policy Type: Local

Responsible Office: Chief of Police, Virginia Commonwealth University Police Department

Initial Policy Approved: 9/4/2013

Current Revision Approved: 3/1/2021



The purpose of this directive is to establish the policy and procedures for the lawful search and seizure of a person, place or thing. It is the department’s policy to establish guidelines for lawful search and seizures, as set forth by local, state and federal laws. This directive also contains guidelines for completing an Affidavit for a Search Warrant.

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution guarantees every citizen the right to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures. Officers shall scrupulously observe these constitutional guidelines when conducting searches and should always remain mindful of their lawful purpose.


Accountability Statement

All employees are expected to fully comply with the guidelines and timelines set forth in this written directive. Failure to comply will result in appropriate corrective action. Responsibility rests with the division commander to ensure that any policy violations are investigated and appropriate training, counseling and/or disciplinary action is initiated.


Search Warrant Procedures, Generally

  1. The department’s prime consideration must be the integrity of a valid and legal search warrant. In many instances, it may be necessary to prolong investigations in order to gather sufficient facts to establish probable cause for a search warrant.
  2. Prior to seeking a search warrant, the requesting officer must notify their immediate supervisor of their intent to seek a search warrant and provide the supervisor an opportunity to review and approve the draft affidavit for a search warrant prior to presenting to the magistrate’s office for a probable cause determination.
  3. In order to obtain a search warrant, a police officer must first provide the magistrate or judge with an affidavit that contains sufficient facts that establish probable cause for the issuance of such search warrant based on the totality of circumstances. Department members shall use the Commonwealth of Virginia’s Affidavit for a Search Warrant (Form DC-338).
  4. The judicial officer must review the affidavit to determine whether, given all of the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before them, including the ‘veracity’ and basis of knowledge of persons supplying hearsay information, there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.
  5. The Affidavit for a Search Warrant must contain all of the following (see also Va. Code § 19.2-54): 
    1. Reasonably describe the place, thing or person to be searched
    2. Reasonably describe the things or persons to be searched for under the warrant
      1. The description should be as specific as possible; however, the officer conducting the search will not be restricted to seizing only those items explicitly listed in the search warrant. If the officer discovers evidence related to the crime for which the warrant was obtained or other incriminating evidence, the officer is may seize it.
        1. NOTE: If the search warrant is for a television or large item, small places, such as jewelry boxes, may not be searched.
    3. Allege briefly material facts that constitute probable cause for the issuance of such warrant
      1. The officer should be as detailed as possible in outlining the pertinent facts that support a probable cause finding for issuance of a search warrant.
    4. Allege substantially the offense or the identity of the person to be arrested for whom a warrant or process for arrest has been issued in relation to which such search is to be made
    5. Allege that the object, thing or person searched for constitutes evidence of the commission of such offense or is the person to be arrested for whom a warrant or process of arrest has been issued
    6. State how the facts stated in the affidavit were obtained:
      1. Through personal knowledge/observations and/or
        1. Officer must state how such observations were made and what they observed
      2. In whole or in part, by one or more other persons
        1. Must provide facts to support the credibility of the person(s) providing the information and/or the reliability of the information provided
          1. Example - The statement “that the person is reliable as they have provided good information in the past” is not sufficient.
      3. Use of Informants or Cooperating Citizens and Establishing their Reliability
        1. When the person is a non-confidential source, the officer is required to state the facts that support the officer’s conclusion. The reliability of a citizen informant can be adequately established by demonstrating that the citizen is steadily employed, is a registered voter, and has a good reputation in the community, etc.
        2. When the informant is a confidential source, the informant must allege the facts and the affidavit must demonstrate the informant’s reliability in the following ways:
          1. By alleging the informant was an eyewitness and participant in the crime which is discoverable in court
          2. By alleging that the informant is a disinterested citizen who is steadily employed, a registered voter, and has a good reputation in the community
          3. By alleging that the informant is a person of known and proven reliability who has previously furnished information to law-enforcement officers, which has been instrumental in securing convictions (i.e., demonstrate past reliability).
          4. If statements made by an informant are against their “penal interest,” the information is deemed reliable.
            1. NOTE: Under these circumstances, the informant must be named in the affidavit. The affidavit can then be sealed by the issuing judicial officer.
        3. If the confidential informant’s reliability cannot be established:
          1. In these cases, probable cause may be demonstrated through a combination of the informant’s and the officer’s observations. The officer must submit a factual report that supports the credibility of the information obtained from the informant.
          2. The affidavit must allege the informant’s personal observation of the criminal activity, not on hearsay. The only exception is when one of the participants in the crime directly discloses their involvement to the informant.
        4. NOTE: Refer to Written Directive 7-9 Informants for addition information and applicable procedures.
    7. The judicial officer issuing the warrant must certify the affidavit, to include their signature and the date and time of issuance
  6. Pursuant to the Code of Virginia § 19.2-56 (A), the search warrant shall include all of the following:
    1. Name of the affiant
    2. Recite the offense or the identity of the person to be arrested for whom a warrant or process of arrest has been issued in relation to which the search is to be made
    3. Name or describe in detail the person, place or thing to be searched (a warrant directed against a multiple-occupancy structure must describe a particular sub-unit or specify the name of the occupant)
    4. Describe the property or person to be searched for
    5. Recite that the magistrate has found probable cause to believe that the property or person constitutes evidence of a crime (identified in the warrant) or tends to show that a person (named or described therein) has committed or is committing a crime or that the person to be arrested for whom a warrant or process for arrest has been issued is located at the place to be searched 
  7. The official authorized to issue search warrants shall attach a copy of the certified affidavit to the search warrant and sign it with the date and time of issuance.
  8. Upon obtaining a search warrant from the magistrate’s office, the on-duty patrol supervisor must notify the Assistant Chief of Police prior to executing the search warrant in order to confirm any necessary logistics for execution.


Search Warrant Issuance and Execution

  1. Prior to the execution of a search warrant, an operational plan with supervisory approval shall be prepared. The only permitted exceptions to this are if the search warrant has been executed at a crime scene, and/or the search and seizure would involve a vehicle or person.
  2. Notification of all search warrants shall include the Investigations Division. Dispatch shall also be notified of the search warrant location. Notification via telephone is acceptable.
  3. Any search warrant not executed within 15 days after issuance shall be voided by the officer and returned to the magistrate or judge who issued the search warrant.
  4. Pursuant to the Code of Virginia § 19.2-56 (B), the following search warrant restrictions apply:
    1. Law-enforcement officers are prohibited from seeking, executing, or participating in the execution of a “no-knock” search warrant for any place of abode.
    2. Upon obtaining a valid search warrant for the search of any place of abode authorized under §19.2-56, the law-enforcement officer executing the search warrant is required to be recognizable and identifiable as a uniformed law-enforcement officer and required to provide audible notice of their authority and purpose reasonably designed to be heard by the occupants of the place to be searched prior to the execution of the search warrant.
      1. NOTES:
        1. When executing a search warrant for any place of abode, the law-enforcement officer(s) must be dressed in the department uniform that they customarily wear in the performance of their duties, which clearly show them to casual observation to be an officer (see also Va. Code § 19.2-78).
        2. The officer(s) must wait a reasonable period of time for the occupants to answer the door prior to the execution of the search warrant (see Gladden v. Commonwealth, 11 Va. App. 595, 598 (1991)).
        3. The officer(s) must knock and announce on the door that reasonably appears to be the main entry/egress point for the residence (see Commonwealth v. Trussell, 23 Cir. CR01121 (2000)).
        4. The following factors should be considered when determining the kind of announcement and how long to wait:
          1. Size of the residence
          2. Location of the residence
          3. Location of the officer(s) in relation to the main living or sleeping areas of the residence
          4. Time of day
    3. After entering and securing the place to be searched and prior to undertaking any search or seizure pursuant to the search warrant, the executing law-enforcement officer shall give a copy of the search warrant and affidavit to the person to be searched or the owner of the place to be searched or, if the owner is not present, to any occupant of the place to be searched. If the place to be searched is unoccupied, the executing law-enforcement officer shall leave a copy of the search warrant and affidavit in a conspicuous place within or affixed to the place to be searched.
    4. Search warrants authorized under § 19.2-56 for the search of any place of abode shall be executed by initial entry of the abode only in the daytime hours between 8:00 A.M. and 5:00 P.M., unless one of the following exceptional circumstances apply:
      1. A judge or a magistrate, if a judge is not available, authorizes the execution of such search warrant at another time for good cause shown by particularized facts in an affidavit.
      2. Prior to the issuance of the search warrant, law-enforcement officers lawfully entered and secured the place to be searched and remained at such place continuously.
    5. A law-enforcement officer shall make reasonable efforts to locate a judge before seeking authorization to execute the search warrant at another time, unless circumstance require the issuance of the warrant after 5:00 P.M., pursuant to the provisions of § 19.2-56 (B), in which case the law-enforcement officer may seek such authorization from a magistrate without first making reasonable efforts to locate a judge. These reasonable efforts must be documented in an affidavit and submitted to a magistrate when seeking such authorization.
    6. Any evidence obtained from a search warrant executed in violation of the provisions of § 19.2-56 (B) will not be admitted into evidence for the Commonwealth in any prosecution.
    7. Additional Notes:
      1. A law-enforcement officer may execute a search warrant by entering a place of abode prior to 5:00 P.M. If that officer needs to remain after 5:00 P.M. to continue searching, that officer may do so without any additional authorization other than the basic search warrant.
      2. This daytime restriction (8:00 AM – 5:00 PM) only applies to search warrants authorized under § 19.2-56 for the search of any place of abode (i.e., “abode” means one’s home, habitation, place of dwelling, residence or living place).
        1. Warrants not issued under § 19.2-56:
          1. Animal Cruelty (§ 3.2-6502 & § 3.2-6568)
          2. Alcohol Violations (§ 4.1-337)
          3. Building Code Violations (§ 36-105)
          4. Child or Adult Care Operations (§ 63.2-1718, & unlicensed childcare operations § 22.1-289.033)
          5. Dam Inspections (§ 10.1-610)
          6. Endangered Species (§ 29.1-567)
          7. Fire Investigation Warrants (§ 27-31)
          8. Fire Safety Inspection Warrant (§ 27-98.1, et. seq.)
          9. Hazardous Material or Waste (§ 27-37.1, et. seq.)
          10. Health Regulations (§ 32.1-25)
          11. Installation of a Tracking Device (GPS) (§ 19.2-56.2)
          12. Real-Time Location Data (§ 19.2-70.3(C))
          13. Toxic Substances (§ 19.2-393)
          14. Waste Management (§ 10.1-1456)
          15. Workplace Safety (§ 40.1-49.9)
      3. In order to demonstrate compliance with the daytime provisions of § 19.2-56 (B), a law-enforcement officer(s) executing a search warrant for the search of any abode should document the exact time that the initial entry of the abode occurred for the purposes of executing the search.
      4. § 19.2-56 (B) applies no matter whose property is being searched. Thus, a defendant could suppress any evidence that was seized in violation of this Code section, even if the executing officer(s) are searching a victim’s property.
  5. If the police officer seizes property during the search, the officer shall make a list, under oath, of all articles, instruments or other property. If the police officer does not seize any property, a notation that “no property was seized” shall be attached to the warrant. This list or note must be filed within three (3) working days of the warrant's execution in the Circuit Court Clerk's Office. Saturdays, Sundays, or any federal or state holiday shall not be used in computing the three-day filing period.
  6. The Complete Search: This search should be handled by a police officer of the same sex. It is much more involved than a stop-and-frisk search, and the laws governing this type of search are much broader.
    1. Searches of a person are reasonable when one of the following apply:
      1. They are based on a properly issued warrant
      2. Connected with a full custodial arrest
      3. Made with the voluntary consent of the person searched
    2. The officer may search for all of the following:
      1. Concealed weapons
      2. Evidence which may connect the suspect with a crime
      3. Objects which may be used as a means of escape
  7. The Strip Search (see also Va. Code § 19.2-59.1):
    1. A strip search means having an arrested person remove or arrange some or all of their clothing so as to permit a visual inspection of the genitals, buttocks, anus, female breasts, or undergarments of such person.
    2. Strip searches require special justification since they are peculiarly intrusive. Strip searches of detainees are constitutionally constrained by due process requirements of reasonableness under the circumstances (Logan v. Shealy, 660 F.2d 1007, 1013 (4th Cir.1981), cert. denied, 455 U.S. 942, 102 S. Ct. 1435, 71 L.Ed.2d 653 (1982)).
    3. No person in custodial arrest for a traffic infraction, Class 3 or Class 4 misdemeanor or a violation of a City Ordinance, which is punishable by 30 days or less in jail, shall be strip searched unless there is reasonable cause to believe, on the part of a law-enforcement officer authorizing the search, that the individual is concealing a weapon. All strip searches conducted for this purpose must be performed by persons of the same sex as the person arrested and on premises where the search cannot be observed by persons not physically conducting the search.
    4. A search of any body cavity must be performed under sanitary conditions and a search of any body cavity, other than the mouth, shall be conducted either by or under the supervision of medically trained personnel.
    5. VCUPD officers shall not conduct strip searches.
    6. In the event that a strip search is necessary, the officer shall transport the subject to the Richmond Justice Center or VCU Medical Center. When allowed by medical personnel, an officer of the same sex as the subject receiving the strip search shall be present to witness the search and to recover any weapons, evidence or contraband. Should the search be conducted outside of the presence of the officer, proper chain-of-custody protocol must be followed and documented within the IBR.
    7. Circumstances under which a strip search may be conducted at the Richmond Justice Center or VCU Medical Center:
      1. Pursuant to a search warrant specifically authorizing a strip search.
      2. Pursuant to specific consent from the person to conduct a strip search of the person.
      3. Pursuant to “special justification” for the strip search. Case law shows that the courts will balance the need for the particular search against the invasion of personal rights that the search entails. Courts will consider the scope of the particular intrusion, the manner in which it is conducted, the justification for initiating it, and the place in which it is conducted (Taylor v. Commonwealth, 28 Va. App. 638, 507 S.E.2d 661 (Va. App. 1998); Hughes v. Commonwealth, 31 Va. App. 447, 524 S.E.2d 155 (Va. App. 2000)).
      4. Supervisory approval has been obtained in addition to the search warrant, consent and/or special justification.
    8. The officer shall compile an IBR report with all applicable information and maintain a copy of the search warrant.
  8. Full-Body Cavity Searches:
    1. VCUPD officers shall not conduct searches of body cavities, with the exception of the mouth.
    2. A full-body cavity search is an inspection of the body’s orifices, internal organs and fluids.
    3. Should visual examination of a suspect during a strip search and/or other information lead an officer to believe that a suspect or arrestee is concealing a weapon, evidence or contraband within a body cavity, all of the following procedures must be followed:
      1. Where there exists reasonable and appropriate cause to support a body cavity search, officers shall apply for a search warrant.
      2. If a search warrant is granted, the subject shall be taken to the VCU Medical Center where the search will be conducted in a private location by qualified medical personnel.
      3. When allowed by medical personnel, an officer of the same sex as the subject receiving the body-cavity search shall be present to witness the search and recover any weapons, evidence or contraband.
      4. Should the search be conducted outside of the presence of the officer, proper chain-of-custody protocol must be followed and documented within the IBR.
    4. The officer shall complete an IBR report with all applicable information and maintain a copy of the search warrant.


Searches Incident to a Lawful Arrest

  1. The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that a warrantless search of a dwelling incident to a lawful custodial arrest is constitutionally confined to the area within the arrestee’s immediate control at the time of their arrest. A warrantless search of the entire house following a lawful arrest is unconstitutional (Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752 (1969)).
  2. Arrests in Homes and in Third-Party Dwellings:
    1. In the absence of exigent circumstances, the Fourth Amendment prohibits police from making a warrantless or nonconsensual entry into a suspect’s home for the purpose of effecting a routine felony arrest. Therefore, police cannot enter the home of an accused for the purpose of effecting a felony arrest without having first obtained an arrest warrant and having the warrant in their possession (Payton v. N.Y., 445 U.S. 573 (1980)).
    2. Before an officer can enter the suspect’s home pursuant to an arrest warrant, the officer must (1) have a “reasonable belief” that the location to be searched is where the suspect lives and, (2) the officer must have a “reasonable belief” that the suspect is actually present at the address listed on the warrant (Payton v. N.Y., 445 U.S. 573 (1980)).
    3. In the absence of the consent of the owner of the dwelling or exigent circumstances, a search warrant is required to search for a person named in an arrest warrant on the premises of a third party (Steagald v. U.S., 451 U.S. 204 (1981); Wallace v. King, 626 F.2d 1157 (4th Cir. 1980)).
  3. Protective Sweep in Conjunction with an In-Home Arrest:
    1. When officers enter a person’s home to arrest that person pursuant to an arrest warrant and officers possess an articulable and objectively reasonable belief that an armed accomplice may be located in the home, officers may conduct a cursory scan of adjoining rooms and those areas where a person could be found. The sweep can last no longer than is necessary to dispel the officers’ reasonable suspicion and must end when the arrest is completed and officers leave the premises (Maryland v. Buie, 494 U.S. 325 (1990)).
  4. Search of the Passenger Compartment of an Automobile Upon the Custodial Arrest of the Occupant:
    1. When police officers merely issue a traffic citation and do not execute a custodial arrest, they may not search the driver or the car for contraband (Knowles v. Iowa, 525 U.S. 113 (1998)).
    2. When a police officer has made a lawful custodial arrest of the occupant of an automobile, the officer may search the passenger compartment of the vehicle only if it is reasonable to believe that the arrestee might access the vehicle at the time of the search or that the vehicle contains evidence of the offense of arrest (Arizona v. Gant, 556 U.S. 332 (2009)).
  5. A lawful custodial arrest authorizes a full search of the person (United States v. Robinson, 414 U.S. 218, 234-35, 94 S.Ct. 467, 38 L.Ed.2d 427 (1973)).


Other Warrantless Searches

In addition to the preceding search incident to a lawful arrest exception, the below are additional exceptions to the warrant requirement central to the Fourth Amendment protection against unreasonable searches and seizures:

  1. Consent to Search
    1. An individual may waive their Fourth Amendment rights as long as that waiver is voluntary. In order to justify a search based on consent, police must be able to establish the following three elements:
      1. Voluntariness
        1. To be effective, the subject’s consent must be a voluntary and intelligent decision made without coercion (Schneckloth v. Bustamonte, 412 U.S. 218 (1973)).
        2. Voluntariness is determined by the totality of the circumstances.
        3. Consent given to an invalid warrant is deemed involuntary (Bumper v. North Carolina, 391 U.S. 543 (1968)).
        4. The consent cannot be obtained by duress (such as police demanding entry to the location), fraud occurring when the police either claim to have a warrant or pose as repairmen, or coercion on the part of the police.
        5. Consent may be revoked at any time, in which case the search must cease.
          1. The officer shall advise the consenting party for the warrantless search that they have the right to deny or stop the search at any time.
      2. Proper scope
        1. The consenting party controls the scope of the search, and any conduct exceeding the scope of the consent is unlawful. The scope is defined by the explicit or implicit terms of the consent.
          1. However, once a suspect has granted permission to search a car for narcotics, the containers within the car may also be searched (Florida v. Jimeno, 500 U.S. 258 (1991)).
      3. Third-party consent
        1. The consenting party must have either actual or apparent authority to consent, such as the owner or occupant of the particular premises (actual authority), or the consenting party has a key or knows where things are on the premises (Illinois v. Rodriguez, 477 U.S. 177 (1990)).
          1. However, a landlord may not consent to the search of a tenant’s apartment (Chapman v. U.S., 365 U.S. 610 (1961)).
        2. Generally, any person who has joint control or use of a shared premises may consent to a valid search, and any evidence obtained may be used against the other occupants (Frazier v. Cupp, 394 U.S. 731 (1969)).
          1. Such consent applies to common areas, but not to private, reserved areas where the defendant has exclusive control (U.S. v. Matlock, 415 U.S. 164 (1974)).
          2. The Commonwealth has the burden of proving that the co-occupant had authority to grant access by virtue of “joint access or control” over the area (Illinois v. Rodriguez, 497 U.S. 177 (1990)).
        3. A co-occupant’s refusal to a search request is controlling over themselves and renders a warrantless entry and search invalid against them (Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006).
    2. Officers shall utilize the VCUPD-73 Permission to Search form when a warrantless search is conducted based on the consent of an individual who has actual or apparent authority under the law to consent to the search of the premises, building or vehicles, when feasible. The VCUPD-73 must be signed by the person who granted the permission to search.
    3. All property seized during the search shall be listed on the back of all copies of the VCUPD-73, and a copy of the completed form shall be left with the consenting individual. In the event that a VCUPD-73 form was not utilized, officers are required to list the name and age of the consenting individual, as well as list all seized items in the IBR.
    4. Distribution of Completed Form:
      1. Original (File the same way as a search warrant) - If an arrest is made, attach the form to the arrest warrant and forward to the court that has jurisdiction over the case. If no arrest is made, the original copy shall be forwarded to the proper court.
      2. Copy – Investigator assigned to the case shall retain a copy
      3. Copy - Leave a copy with the individual who granted the consent to search
      4. Copy - Forward a copy to the Investigations Division without delay
  2. Search of a Vehicle Based on Probable Cause
    1. The U.S. Supreme Court has held that once the police have probable cause to search the moving or temporarily stopped vehicle, they may seize the vehicle and search it later, even if there is sufficient time to obtain a warrant between the seizure of the vehicle and the subsequent search (Chambers v. Maroney, 399 U.S. 42 (1970)).
    2. The police may inspect a container within an automobile if they have probable cause to believe the container contains contraband or evidence, even where the police do not have probable cause to search the entire car (California v. Acevedo, 500 U.S. 565 (1991)).
    3. Where probable cause to conduct a warrantless search exists, the police may search the entire vehicle, including closed containers and luggage, to find the objects for which the probable cause existed (U.S. v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1977)).
  3. Protective Sweep of the Area Within the Suspect’s Immediate Control
    1. Police officers may, whenever they possess an articulable and objectively reasonable belief that a suspect is presently or potentially dangerous, conduct a protective sweep for weapons or persons in the area within the suspect’s immediate control. If the suspect moves about, an officer is justified in staying with the individual during the course of the stop and conducting a protective sweep of the areas which come within the suspect’s immediate control, even if this action necessitates entry into the suspect’s home. This includes furtive movements by an occupant of a vehicle that gives the officer reasonable suspicion the occupant may possess a firearm.
  4. Plain View
    1. Officers may seize property that is clearly visible in plain view without a warrant if (Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443 (1971)) both of the following apply:
      1. The police are lawfully positioned
      2. It is immediately apparent that the evidence is incriminating
    2. An officer may follow an arrestee into their house and then lawfully seize any contraband evidence that is in plain view (Washington vs. Chrisman, 455 U.S. 1 (1982)).
    3. The plain view exception to the warrant requirement does not in itself mean that all items viewed by police officers are “reasonable” simply because the police officer was legally in the area (Arizona v. Hicks, 480 U.S. 321 (1987)).
  5. Exigent Circumstances
    1. Emergency situations where evidence may be lost or destroyed before a warrant can be obtained, a warrantless search and seizure if permitted (Illinois v. McArthur, 531 U.S. 326 (2001); Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966)).
    2. Police may enter a home without a warrant when they objectively have a reasonable belief that an occupant is in serious imminent harm (Utah v. Stewart, 547 U.S. 398 (2006)).
    3. Although there is no exception to the warrant requirement for searches at the scene of a crime, police may search a crime scene without a warrant to seek victims or a remaining killer (Mincey v. Arizona, 437 U.S. 385 (1978); Thompson v. Louisiana, 469 U.S. 17(1984)).
    4. Police may conduct a warrantless search and seizure of evidence in or on a suspect’s body provided that both of the following apply:
      1. There is probable cause to believe that the nature of the evidence renders it easily destroyed or likely to disappear before a warrant can be obtained
      2. The procedure for seizing the evidence must be reasonable
        1. An officer may reasonably order an arrestee to disgorge that which the arrestee has within their mouth. Officers are prohibiting from using force to extract drugs or evidence from a suspect’s mouth.
        2. Suspects who are in custody and who have ingested drugs or evidence, or where there is a reasonable suspicion that the suspect in custody has ingested drugs or evidence, shall be transported by the arresting officer or transporting officer to the hospital for treatment. If an individual who is not an arrestee or is a non-custodial arrestee (released on a summons), has or is believed to have ingested drugs or evidence, the officer shall call for the Richmond Ambulance Authority (RAA) to respond for medical treatment. Should the individual leave the scene or refuse medical attention, their refusal shall be documented. The officer shall:
          1. Upon examination of the subject by medical personnel, inform the medical personnel of the facts known to the officer regarding the arrestee’s ingestion of the contraband.
          2. The officer shall not advise, instruct, direct, request and/or suggest any particular medical course of action or outcome or any medical procedure, therapy and/or treatment to the medical personnel.
          3. While medical attention is being administered to a person in custody, the officer must remain readily available at the site of the person receiving medical attention.
            1. NOTE: If at any time the contents that the officer reasonably believes to be contraband in the arrestee’s mouth, stomach, etc., come outside of the arrestee’s body, the officer shall, to the extent reasonable, collect, document and preserve those contents as evidence.
    5. Warrantless, nonconsensual searches to fire-damaged premises may only be conducted when all of the following circumstances apply (Michigan v. Tyler, 436 U.S. 499 (1978)):
      1. During the official’s initial entry to fight a fire
      2. During a reasonable time thereafter to investigate the cause of the blaze after it has been extinguished
      3. Where an initial investigation is temporarily interrupted due to adverse conditions such as smoke, steam or darkness, reentry may be made without a warrant to continue the investigation into the cause of the fire. However, re-entry must be made promptly upon the end of the adverse conditions.
  6. Hot Pursuit
    1. A warrantless search is lawful when police are in actual “hot pursuit” of a fleeing suspect to apprehend them; they may seize “mere” evidence as well as contraband they find (Warden v. Hayden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967)).
    2. Police may enter and search a private dwelling while in reasonable pursuit of the fleeing suspect (U.S. v. Santana, 427 U.S. 38 (1976)).
  7. Inventory Search Following a Lawful Impoundment
    1. If the police lawfully impound a vehicle, they may conduct a routine inventory search. Since the reason for the search is not criminal investigation, the police do not need probable cause or a warrant to justify the search (South Dakota vs. Opperman, 428 U.S. 364 (1967)).
    2. The purpose of the inventory search is to protect the property owner from loss; protect the impounding officer, VCUPD and the university against false liability claims; and protect the general public from danger. See Written Directive 8-8 Vehicle Towing for applicable inventory procedures for towing, seizure, storage of, and abandoned vehicles.
  8. Searches Pursuant to a Stop are addressed in Written Directive 6-5 Field Interviews and Pat Downs.



  1. The property to be used as evidence shall be safely kept and thereafter disposed of as provided by law. Any property which is not used for evidence and/or stolen or embezzled property, shall be restored to its owner. Those items mentioned in Va. Code §19.2-53 may be burned or otherwise destroyed as soon as there is no further need for its use, unless it is otherwise expressly prohibited by law.
  2. With the consent of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, the officer or agency having possession of “money or securities” may retain sufficient amounts necessary to prove the crime of Grand Larceny or any crime requiring a specific amount in value and release the remaining excess moneys or securities to the owner with a proper receipt.
  3. The official authorizing the release shall make an appropriate record including designation or copying of serial numbers. This record shall be admissible into evidence in any proceeding, hearing or trial of the case to the same extent as if such moneys or securities had been introduced.
  4. The record or receipt shall contain all of the following:
    1. The name of the financial institution or person from whom such monies or securities were taken
    2. The place from where taken
    3. The name of the accused
    4. The name of the arresting officer(s) coming into initial possession of such monies or securities
  5. Pictures shall be taken of any instruments or securities and such pictures shall be attached to the record above and shall contain, in the case of copying, the date of the photograph and the name of the photographer.
  6. The court may, with the consent of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, authorize the Clerk of the Circuit Court, upon all appeal rights being exhausted, to deposit such monies or cash in an interest-bearing account.
  7. Any agency seizing property pending forfeiture and final disposition, may do any of the following (Asset Forfeiture):
    1. Place the property under constructive seizure by posting notice of seizure for forfeiture on the property or by filing notice of seizure for forfeiture in any appropriate public record relating to property
    2. Remove the property to a storage area for safekeeping or, if the property is a negotiable instrument or money, deposit it in an interest-bearing account
    3. Remove the property to a place designated by the Circuit Court in the county or city wherein the property was seized
    4. Provide for another custodian or agency to take custody of the property and remove it to an appropriate location within or not within the jurisdiction of the Circuit Court in the county or city where the property was seized or in which the complaint was filed
  8. A report regarding the type of property subject to forfeiture and its handling and the final disposition of the property shall be filed by the seizing agency with the Department of Criminal Justice Services in accordance with regulations promulgated by the Board.


Revision History

This policy supersedes the following archived policies:

9/4/2013 - 1-10 Search and Seizure