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What is required for a valid search warrant?

On Behalf of | Aug 26, 2023 | Criminal Defense

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects people from unlawful searches and seizures. Thus, an individual cannot be searched arbitrarily, and this is also the case for their dwelling.

There are occasions when a property can be searched, and this is usually done with a search warrant based on probable cause. What terms should be included in a search warrant?

The warrant must be approved by a judge

It’s possible that law enforcement may want to enter the property as quickly as possible, but they cannot take shortcuts. A warrant must first be signed off on by a judge. For this to happen, law enforcement needs evidence that amounts to probable cause.

The warrant must be specific

Search warrants apply to very specific circumstances and surroundings. Generally, they are also time limited. The warrant must detail the property that is subject to the search and the period of time that the search can occur. If the warrant relates to another property or the timeframe has expired, then it is not valid. If the police intend to remove items from the property, these items should be named in the paperwork.

Are there exceptions?

In some cases, a lawful search may be conducted without a search warrant. For example, if the property owner opens the door and invites officers in voluntarily, they may then be able to look for evidence. Officers may also be entitled to conduct a search if they have strong reason to believe that a crime is being committed — for instance, if they heard gunshots from inside the property upon arrival.

Being subjected to a search of any kind can be daunting, but you do have rights. Make sure you have legal guidance if you are facing an investigation or have already been charged with an offense.