We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

What is a Search Warrant?

By Charity Delich
Updated May 16, 2024
Our promise to you
MyLawQuestions is dedicated to creating trustworthy, high-quality content that always prioritizes transparency, integrity, and inclusivity above all else. Our ensure that our content creation and review process includes rigorous fact-checking, evidence-based, and continual updates to ensure accuracy and reliability.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

Editorial Standards

At MyLawQuestions, we are committed to creating content that you can trust. Our editorial process is designed to ensure that every piece of content we publish is accurate, reliable, and informative.

Our team of experienced writers and editors follows a strict set of guidelines to ensure the highest quality content. We conduct thorough research, fact-check all information, and rely on credible sources to back up our claims. Our content is reviewed by subject-matter experts to ensure accuracy and clarity.

We believe in transparency and maintain editorial independence from our advertisers. Our team does not receive direct compensation from advertisers, allowing us to create unbiased content that prioritizes your interests.

A search warrant is a legal document approved by a court for the purpose of allowing law enforcement officers to search a particular person or place. Search warrants are commonly used in criminal cases, and they are designed to let police officers lawfully uncover evidence while under the protection of a court order. Most warrants must state the specific objects being sought as well as the time and place for the search. For instance, a search warrant may allow a police officer to search 111 Anywhere Road from 7 a.m. to 10 a.m. for evidence of marijuana, cocaine, and related paraphernalia used in connection with selling illegal drugs.

In order to obtain a warrant to conduct a criminal search, police officers or prosecutors must demonstrate that they have probable cause to believe that a crime is being committed at the location to be searched. In addition, they are usually required to show they have probable cause to think that evidence of a crime may be found there. To demonstrate this to the court, the officer or prosecutor typically submits a sworn, written statement called an affidavit. The affidavit generally contains the officer’s observations or witness reports relating to the crime.

A judge or magistrate then determines whether the affidavit adequately establishes probable cause. He or she will issue a search warrant if cause is established. Suspects connected with the search are not in attendance during a search warrant request. A suspect may, however, challenge whether the court had valid grounds for issuing a search warrant if the suspect is later accused of a crime.

During a search, police officers are generally limited to what they can investigate. For example, if a search warrant allows an officer to examine “John Doe’s office,” the officer may not search the entire office building. Additionally, the officer is limited in what type of items they can search for. If they are permitted to search for evidence of insider trading, for instance, they cannot search for weapons. Police officers may, however, seize evidence that is uncovered while lawfully searching for the items listed in the warrant.

Search warrants can also be used on people. Officers who are conducting this type of warrant search may only investigate the person specified in the warrant. They may not search another person in the area. If an officer is reasonably suspicious that a bystander is engaged in criminal activity, the officer may only question that bystander. If, however, the officer believes that his or her safety is at issue, the officer is permitted to frisk the bystander for weapons.

MyLawQuestions is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

MyLawQuestions, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.