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What should you know about search warrants?

On Behalf of | May 1, 2024 | Criminal Defense |

Police officers often search for evidence when they’re investigating a crime. Anyone who’s facing interactions with police officers should ensure they understand their rights as they relate to these searches.

An important point to remember is that any evidence that’s seized unlawfully may be able to be thrown out of a criminal case. As such, evidence that is either seized improperly due to an unlawfully warrantless search or a warrant-based search riddled with concerns could be thrown out of court.

What’s the purpose of a search warrant?

A search warrant must be very specific. It must outline the evidence that’s being searched for, where the search should occur and when it can happen. It must be signed by a judge or a magistrate, but they can only do that if there’s probable cause showing that the search and seizure is necessary for the purpose of the case.

When is a search warrant required?

A search warrant is always required unless there is one of a few specific circumstances present. For example, no warrant is needed if the person who has legal control over an area gives police officers permission without being coerced into giving it. A person who’s being forced to give permission can’t legally do so, which means that permission is invalid.

Police officers also don’t need a warrant if they can see the evidence in plain view from a place where they have a legal right to be. For example, if they notice a stolen item on the patio table while they’re knocking on the front door. They could then seize that stolen item.

They typically don’t need a warrant to search a vehicle or to conduct a search that happens after a lawful arrest. They also don’t need a warrant if there’s reason to believe that the officer, the public, or evidence is in danger.

It’s critical for anyone who’s facing charges to work closely with a legal representative to determine if there’s a case for evidence to be suppressed. This may be only one small part of a defense strategy, so it’s vital to look into every option to safeguard one’s rights and interests.