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Search Warrant Requirements


The Fourth Amendment of the nation’s constitution grants you the right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures. Generally, in the United States of America, a search and seizure is considered illegal if it is conducted without a warrant and doesn’t fall under an exception of the warrant requirement. Some exceptions that permit warrantless searches in the U.S. include exigent circumstances, plain view doctrine, emergencies, and hot pursuit.

When it comes to a written search warrant, some requirements must be met before a warrant can be issued. Even when a search warrant exists, a search and seizure could be regarded as illegal if the warrant does not meet these specific requirements. Below, we discuss search warrant requirements.

Search Warrant Requirements

Law enforcement officers must satisfy specific requirements to obtain a search warrant. And when a warrant is issued, it must be signed by a specific individual and contain specific information for it to be considered valid. The following are some of the search warrant requirements;

  • Before a police officer can get a search warrant, they need to show probable cause that an offense was or is being committed and items linked to the crime are likely to be found in the place to be searched. Such information can come from the officer’s or an informant’s observations.
  • A neutral and detached judge must sign and seal a search warrant for it to be considered valid.
  • For a search warrant to be considered valid, it must specifically identify the person or place to be searched.
  • A valid search warrant must state expressly the items to be seized.
  • A valid search warrant must contain a specific date and time of issuance.

Executing a Search Warrant

After an officer gets a search warrant, they must execute it within a specified time. If a search warrant is not timely executed, the grounds of probable cause may disappear.

When executing a search warrant, an officer are required to knock and announce their authority before entering a place unless they have been granted a “No Knock” search warrant. However, if an officer fails to knock and announce, their failure to knock and announce will not automatically result in the suppression of evidence.

Regarding the extent to which an officer can go when executing a search warrant, it’s crucial to note that police officers are limited to places and people  listed in the warrant. For instance, if a search warrant specifies that a police officer is searching the backyard of a home, the officer can’t legally search inside the house. Additionally, a police officer can only search for items specified in the warrant. However, if an officer observes evidence or other contraband in plain sight, and it is immediately apparent that it is evidence of the crime or other contraband, they may legally seize the item even if it is not listed on the warrant.

Contact Rigney Law LLC Today

If you need help with a criminal case, contact the qualified and dedicated Indianapolis criminal defense lawyer at Rigney Law LLC.



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