Search Warrants

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What Is a Search Warrant?

A search warrant is an order signed by a judge that gives police officers the right to search a specific place for specific objects or materials. An officer must have "probable cause" to believe that a search will produce evidence of a crime.

What Is Probable Cause?

Probable cause means that the officer has a reasonable belief that a person is guilty of a crime. This belief must be based on factual evidence, not just on suspicion.

Does an Officer Need a Search Warrant to Search Me?

In certain situations, a police officer can search you or your property without a warrant. These situations include:

When Are Search Warrants Illegal?

Under certain circumstances, a search warrant may be illegal. A search warrant may be illegal because:

Do I Need a Lawyer If I Feel a Search Was Illegal?

Yes. A qualified criminal defense attorney will be able to determine whether the police followed the proper procedure in conducting a search. Whether the officers had a warrant or not, it is a good idea to talk to a lawyer to protect your legal rights in the event the police target you for a search.

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Last Modified: 10-30-2013 11:27 AM PDT

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