What Is a Search Warrant and What Are Your Rights?
A search warrant is a vital legal instrument for investigators, but law enforcement authorities can’t just search any space at any time. They still need probable cause to request a warrant against you or your property. Do you know your rights?
The Fourth Amendment
The Fourth Amendment in the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable law enforcement intrusion. In practice, searches and seizures are valid only if they meet certain requirements.
“The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” — IV Amendment.
What Is a Search Warrant?
A search warrant is an order issued by a judge or magistrate to allow a search for evidence of a crime. This document also allows officers to enter protected and private areas as long as there is probable cause. The warrant must define the people and the area where the search will be conducted, and explain the circumstances of the search. Law enforcement authorities usually request a search warrant when they suspect they’ll find evidence.
When Is a Search Warrant Required?
If there’s an ongoing investigation, a search warrant will be required most of the time. Officers need to provide broad information and present probable cause. However, there are a few situations when a search warrant is not needed:
- Someone responsible for a place or item consents to a search.
- Officers spot something incriminating in “plain view”.
- Immediately after someone is arrested.
- Someone suspected of committing a crime is armed or poses an imminent threat.
The Exclusionary Rule
Any search that violates the rights granted by the Fourth Amendment is considered illegal and is subjected to the Exclusionary Rule. That means that evidence found during an illegal search can’t be used in a trial. Defendants who feel their rights have been violated can challenge the admissibility of evidence.
The experienced attorneys at Doyle Schafer McMahon can help you understand your rights granted by the Fourth Amendment. We are located in Irvine and we serve the Southern California area. Contact us through our website or call 949-727-7077 if you have questions about search warrants and other legal matters.