Search Warrants and What Individuals Need to Know

People often open their door to a police officer without hesitation. However, there is no law that says a person must allow law enforcement to enter their home unless they have a search warrant. The warrant gives the officers permission from a court to enter the residence and look around. Any evidence that may be incriminating can be collected during this search. What does a person need to know regarding search warrants?

Obtaining a Search Warrant

To obtain a search warrant, law enforcement officers much present facts to a judge to demonstrate probable cause of a crime. In addition to showing cause that a crime has been committed, the officer must also provide evidence that the place to be search has items material to the case. Only when this information has been presented to a judge and he or she finds it acceptable will this warrant be provided. The judge or magistrate approving the warrant must also be neutral.

The Specifics of the Search Warrant

When a warrant is issued, it must detail the location to be searched along with what is being looked for. The warrant must detail this information clearly to the point that an independent party would know exactly where to go to look for this evidence and what they are looking for. Contraband details don’t have to be as specific, as these items are illegal to possess regardless of the case. However, other items must be outlined clearly in the document. Only items that meet these criteria can be collected.

Executing the Warrant

Furthermore, law enforcement officers must follow specific guidelines when executing a search warrant. They must execute the warrant during specific times of the day and within a specified time frame. In addition, they must identify themselves to the occupants of the home before entering. These are only a few of the guidelines that must be followed, and they do vary by state and jurisdiction.

Don’t simply assume police officers have the right to enter a home at any time. This is not the case. In the event police officers arrive at the home, don’t hesitate to contact a criminal attorney ( He or she will provide information on what the officers can and cannot do as well as the rights and responsibilities of the occupants of the building. This information is of great help in ensuring the law is followed at all times.