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Search warrants: What to know

On Behalf of | Jan 25, 2023 | White Collar Crimes

In Texas, you have a legal right to privacy. This means that law enforcement officers are not entitled to interfere with your liberty or search your property without legal justification.

Your home should be a safe space that cannot be breached. However, there are some cases where law enforcement can conduct searches. Before doing this, they typically need a search warrant. For a search warrant to be valid, it must satisfy the following conditions.

The warrant must be court-approved

There is a legal process involved in obtaining a search warrant. It is typically not as simple as police officers making a phone call and receiving authorization within a matter of minutes.

The relevant courts must be notified of the intentions of law enforcement, who generally have to provide probable cause that justifies the warrant. The judge will then have to grant the warrant and specify a timeframe for which it is valid. The warrant will not be valid once these dates have expired.

When items are to be seized

If law enforcement intends to seize goods as evidence then the warrant should document the details of this. For example, if computers are to be seized, then the warrant should express that electronic communication devices can be removed from the property. Failure to do this could make any of the evidence seized inadmissible in court.

What exceptions might apply

It’s important to note that law enforcement officers do not require a warrant in some situations. For instance, if you consent to a search, then a warrant is not required. They may also be able to gain entry if they believe that a crime is in commission or they have probable cause to believe that this is the case. For instance, if an officer hears someone screaming that they’re being held captive inside a home, they don’t need a warrant to enter.

You are protected from unlawful searches under the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. If you are facing criminal charges that originated from a search, make sure you have some legal guidance on your side.