The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution states that no one will be subject to an “unreasonable search or seizure” without a warrant backed by probable cause. However, most people would not even know what to look for if they ever were served a warrant, so they can make sure it is valid. Here are five things you need to know about warrants:
- You have a right to review a warrant against you
- If you have a warrant issued against you or your property, you have a right to review it. This means that if you ask for a warrant, the police conducting the search must produce it. If they refuse, or give excuses about why they can’t give you the warrant, you should be immediately suspicious. As a general rule, you should not permit police to search your property unless they are able to produce a warrant allowing them entry.
- Warrants must be backed by an affidavit
- A warrant must have an affidavit attached, which describes the exact reason for the search or seizure. This must include specific factual allegations that explain why the search or seizure is necessary. If it lacks that affidavit, or if the affidavit does not sufficiently explain the reason for the search or seizure, it may be thrown out in court.
- Warrants must be specific
- The law states that, in order to be valid, warrants must specify the places to be searched or the things to be seized. This means, for example, that it must specify the address of any residence that is supposed to be searched, and that address must be correctly identified. It must also specify what they are looking for, such as drugs, firearms, or evidence of a specific crime. If it lacks these specifications, it may be held invalid.
- Police are limited by the parameters of a warrant
- When police execute a warrant, they are supposed to limit their search or seizure to the parameters of the warrant. This means, for example, if they are searching for an illegal gun, they cannot search somewhere that a gun could not reasonably be stored. A warrant is not a blank check to search wherever the police want, and any evidence found outside the boundaries of the warrant may be prevented from being admitted in court.
- If a warrant is thrown out, so is the evidence found with it
- Police and prosecutors alike hate it when a warrant gets successfully challenged. This is because if a warrant is thrown out, any evidence found through that warrant cannot be admitted in court. Getting a faulty warrant thrown out is thus a potentially significant strategy for criminal suspects to avoid unjust prosecution. However, to understand how you might be able to contest a warrant, you first must contact a lawyer with knowledge of criminal law, who can advise you on your next actions.
If you or someone you know has been arrested for a criminal offense, you will need legal counsel to help you preserve your rights and work to get the best possible outcome for your matter. A New York criminal defense lawyer, who is experienced in handling criminal cases of all sorts, can advise you of your legal rights and will fight for your best interests in court. If you or your loved one has been arrested, contact the Suffolk County criminal defense attorneys at McGuire, Peláez and Bennett at (631) 348-1702.