Overview of Search Warrants

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects against unreasonable searches and seizures by governmental entities. A violation of an alleged offender’s Fourth Amendment rights can result in the exclusion or suppression of evidence.

A warrant must be issued for searches that implicate the Fourth Amendment. To obtain a warrant, the person seeking it, typically a police officer, must make an application to a judge. The following requirements need to be met before a valid search warrant can be issued:

1. be issued by a neutral and detached decisionmaker (i.e. a judge);

2. be based on probable cause (meaning it’s more-likely-than-not) that the items sought are in the place to be searched;

3. describe with particularity the place to be searched and the items to be seized; and

4. be executed within a reasonable period of time.

There are various situations where a search warrant is not required prior to a search. Any evidence seized is admissible, even if a search warrant was not obtained, if:

1. it is “incident” to a lawful arrest;

2. in a movable vehicle in circumstances giving rise to the “automobile exception;”

3. while police are in “hot pursuit” of a suspected felon;

4. in an “evanescent” or “endangering” state;

5. in “plain view” from a lawful vantage point;

6. during a “frisk” after a valid stop;

7. in the course of a search authorized by voluntary consent;

8. in the course of inspections or searches conducted for certain “regulatory” purposes

Whether a search warrant is required and whether it was obtained and implemented correctly varies greatly from case to case depending on the specific facts and circumstances. If you have concerns over a search warrant or lack of search warrant, contact a Minneapolis Criminal Defense Lawyer to discuss the matter right away.

Categories: Criminal Defense