Violations of Warrant Requirements
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When Is a Search Warrant Needed?
Violations of search warrant requirements can create many problems for an upcoming criminal trial. Generally speaking, a warrant is required any time a person’s "reasonable expectation of privacy" might be violated by the police’s search of their body, car, or residence. Without a search warrant, any evidence obtained by the police will usually be excluded from use as evidence in the upcoming trial.
There are a few exceptions to the warrant requirement. For instance, a warrantless search is allowed when the search involves: persons who have already been lawfully arrested, automobiles that have been properly stopped, persons who have consented to a search, persons who have been detained for an investigation, areas that can be plainly viewed by the officer, and evidence that is in danger of being lost/destroyed.
What Are Some Examples of Warrant Violations?
Some examples of violations of warrant requirements include:
- Performing a search without a valid warrant (and not according to any of the exceptions listed above)
- Obtaining a search warrant without having probable cause of the crime or of the evidence being held on the property
- Relying on a warrant that has not been signed or approved yet by a neutral judge
- Searching an area not listed in the search warrant
- Searching for items not listed in the search warrant
So, for instance, if the search warrant only lists drugs and drug paraphernalia, the police may not search for other contraband such as firearms or weapons. However, police can seize any evidence that is in plain view on the premises while they are operating under a valid warrant.
What Happens When Search Warrant Requirements Are Violated?
The usual remedy for a violation of search warrant requirements involves what is called the "exclusionary rule." This rule states that any evidence obtained as the result of an improper or illegal search will be excluded from the evidence records in trial. While this does not actual prevent a violation of 4th Amendment privacy rights, it can help to discourage police and other authorities from violating warrant rules.
Should I Hire a Lawyer if I Suspect a Violation of Warrant Requirements?
If you have been subject to an illegal or improper search, you may need to hire a criminal defense lawyer for assistance and legal advice. Your lawyer can represent you in court and provide you with legal counsel on the matters. Also, your attorney can determine whether there may be any possible defenses that apply to your case.
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Last Modified: 06-10-2015 03:22 PM PDT
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