A couple of months ago, I overdosed on an illegal drug and called an ambulance. I was honest and told them what I took. Two cops came with them and while I was in the ambulance and also in the ER 20 minutes later, the cops and the paramedics entered my house, presumably to investigate it for drugs, but they did not have an official search warrant, and they didn't ask for permission. The paramedics took some of my legal supplements with them but never gave them back.

Were they allowed to do this?

  • 2
    Police always arrive whenever a medical unit responds, in pretty much any jurisdiction. Police are responsible for securing a house, vehicle, or whatever else in the event that you are transported to the hospital. It doesn't sound like the police actually searched or took anything. It sounds more like the paramedics were just looking for anything you might have been taking because people very commonly lie about overdoses and they need to know all the possibilities to make sure they don't endanger your life. Do you know that the police did actually search anything else, or is it a guess?
    – animuson
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 1:24
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    @animuson "Police always arrive..." where do you live that has so many police they can tag team ambulances and still have enough cops left over to do everything else police need to do?
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 1:27
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    @DaleM It's not about how many police are available. Police must secure the house, make sure it's locked, etc. So if they're going to a house, they have to send police. They're also responsible for protecting the unarmed paramedics. So if there's a ruckus at the location or the person may be violent, they send the police. Not saying they're happy about having to waste officers on dumb things like that, but it's their duty.
    – animuson
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 1:31
  • @animuson Actually, police have a duty to protect the community in general; not individual members of it in particular (e.g. the paramedics and/or the householder) - there is plenty of case law on this and some Q&A on this site. They therefore most certainly do not have a duty to attend every (or any) ambulance call out.
    – Dale M
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 1:36
  • 1
    @animuson Yes, the cops were in my house for about an hour and checked out stuff randomly. A family member told me.
    – wat
    Commented Oct 10, 2016 at 2:05

1 Answer 1


I overdosed on an illegal drug and called an ambulance. I was honest and told them what I took.

[emphasis added]

You stated that you had possession, and had recently used a notable amount, of an illegal substance.

That is reasonable cause (or "probable cause" in some jurisdictions) for a search, regardless of a warrant, and they do not need permission.

For example, as FindLaw.com explains, in the USA.

[p]olice may use firsthand information, or tips from an informant to justify the need to search your property. If an informant's information is used, police must prove that the information is reliable under the circumstances.

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    I like where your analysis is headed, Nij. The police require probable cause AND a warrant, or an applicable exception to the warrant requirement, in order for the search to be constitutional. One possible exception might be the exigent circumstances of verifying the OP's description of the drugs used. If they found different drugs at the house, it would be an interesting fight to see if the exigent circumstances would excuse not getting a warrant.
    – David
    Commented Oct 11, 2016 at 0:07

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