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June 11, 2012

The Limits of a Search Warrant

Category: Criminal Law, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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If you’re ever served with a search warrant, it’s important to know your rights.

Purpose of a Search Warrant

A search warrant is a court order granted by a judge that gives police the right to search a place or person for criminal evidence, which can be seized and used in court.

Requirements for a Search Warrant

A search warrant is granted only when the police can convince a judge that they have probable cause to believe a crime has been or is being committed on a given property or by a given person, or that evidence of a crime is located on either.

Limitations of a Search Warrant

Search warrants are never issued in civil cases, meaning even if you’re being sued for personal injury, you’re not subject to a search warrant.
Additionally, a search warrant usually limits a search to a specific area of the property.  For example, if a search warrant is granted to search your basement, an officer cannot go beyond reasonable limits of securing their own safety or the safety of their fellow officers.
The exceptions for extension of a search warrant beyond the area specified are as follows:

  • To ensure safety.
  • To prevent destruction of evidence.
  • To discover more about evidence or stolen items in plain view.
  • To hunt for evidence or stolen items on other areas of the property based on their initial search.

What to Do If You’re Served With a Search Warrant

First, always be respectful. Even if you suspect an officer is violating the terms of the search warrant, you must remain respectful.
Secondly, the officer will leave you with an inventory list of anything that was seized from your house.  Review the list and the warrant with your attorney to make sure what was seized was in fact authorized by the search warrant.
If anything taken is deemed unlawful, your attorney can raise this issue in court and have it declared inadmissible as evidence against you.

Find a Criminal Attorney

If you’re in need of a criminal attorney, Dan Miller Law Office can help. With more than 24 years of legal experience, Dan Miller has the experience and knowledge you need to get the best outcome possible in your case.  Give us a call at (816) 272-1350 or fill out our simple-to-use web form.