What is a Search Warrant?
A search warrant is an order signed by a judge or clerk magistrate authorizing law enforcement officers to search a specifically identified residence for particular items believed to constitute evidence of a crime or criminal activity and to seize those items. If law enforcement is attempting to search your home or business, contact a Boston, Massachusetts Drug Trafficking Lawyer.
How Do Law Enforcement Officers Apply for Search Warrants?
A law enforcement officer applies for a search warrant by submitting a sworn affidavit explaining and/or detailing the evidence of criminal wrongdoing he has assembled, together with the reasons he believes additional evidence of wrongdoing will be found at the residence he seeks permission to search. If the judge or clerk magistrate determines the affiant has submitted proof sufficient to meet the constitutional requirement of “probable cause,” he issues the search warrant.
Are There Any Limitations to a Search Conducted Pursuant to a Search Warrant?
Law enforcement personnel are permitted to search only the residence or property identified in the search warrant and must limit the scope of the search to those items particularized in the search warrant. Most law enforcement officers, therefore, request permission within their application to search for a multitude of items. Moreover, they often include rather relatively small items that could be concealed in drawers, etc., so that they are permitted to conduct a thorough search of the residence. Officers are not, however, necessarily limited to the items particularized within the warrant. Should officers discover illegal substances, such as illegal drugs or other contraband, or other evidence of criminal activity during the search they are permitted to seize the same.
Are Search Warrant Always Required?
No. Law enforcement officers may conduct a search of a residence under various circumstances, such as where there is no publicly recognized expectation of privacy, a resident consents to the search, the officer or officers observe evidence of criminality in “plain view,” the officer or officers arrest an individual within the residence (though this type of search is limited in scope), there is a genuine risk that the evidence within the residence will be destroyed, or the officers respond to an emergency of some type within the residence.
If you have any questions regarding search warrants contact Woburn, Massachusetts drug trafficking defense lawyer, Kevin J. Mahoney.