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How Do Police Officers Get Search Warrants?

Generally, police officers may only search your home or property if they obtain a search warrant or if you provide consent. A search warrant is a legal document that a neutral judge or magistrate must sign to legally authorize officers to conduct a search. Any officer seeking a warrant must provide facts establishing probable cause to believe a crime has been committed and the place to be searched could hold evidence of it.

Warrant applications are typically completed in written affidavits. The officer applying for the warrant must swear to the truth and validity of the information within the affidavit. If the judge or magistrate finds probable cause based on this information, he or she will issue the search warrant.

Laws govern the execution of a warrant

States and the federal government have laws regulating the execution of search warrants. Common requirements include the following:

  • The way in which officers identify themselves to the owners of the property
  • The period in which officers may conduct their search
  • The time of day at which searches may be conducted

One of the most prominent federal regulations, for example, is that police officers must execute the warrant within 14 days and between the hours of 6 a.m. and 10 p.m., unless the judge finds good reason for the search to occur at a different time.

If you have been charged with a crime and would like to learn more about your rights when it comes to search warrants, meet with knowledgeable Reading criminal defense attorney David R. Eshelman.


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