Obtaining a real search warrant isn't as easy as it appears in television crime dramas. It requires law enforcement officers to establish probable cause and have a strong foundation for the request before they seek the warrant. Today, we're going to look at what that foundation includes.
The first thing police officers need to establish in order to obtain a search warrant is probable cause. Probable cause has been defined as: “where known facts and circumstances, of a reasonably trustworthy nature, are sufficient to justify a man of reasonable caution or prudence in the belief that a crime has been or is being committed.” In the case of a search warrant, the police officer must show probable cause that the item(s) sought would be found if the search warrant were granted.
In order to request the warrant, the police officer must file a written affidavit to the judge. The affidavit will outline the facts that support the probable cause. These facts will concern the home or location that will be the subject of the search. The officer must also take an oath that the facts presented in the affidavit are accurate. The affidavit must include a description of the item or items sought in the search and a detailed explanation of when, where and how the search warrant will be executed.
The judge or magistrate will review this affidavit to determine if the officer has proven probable cause. If the judge has questions regarding the requested warrant, he or she does have the right to question the submitting officer.
If the judge deems the officer has proven probable cause, a warrant will likely be granted. This will allow police officers to search the location in question within the boundaries outlined in the warrant. It is important to remember that a search and seizure is not valid unless officers find the sought items within the locations outlined in the warrant. Other items found during the search cannot be legally seized unless those items were outlined in the search.
If you have questions regarding search warrants, you need experienced legal counsel. Contact Attorney Eric J. Olson for vigorous defense and unrivaled results.