Scenario: Police officers arrive at your door and inform you that they have a warrant allowing them to search your property. Since you do not have a legal background, you probably assume the officers can ransack your entire home to find evidence implicating you in a crime.
In such a scenario, your lack of legal knowledge can hurt your case because search warrant execution must occur per the law. These warrants do not always give the police carte blanche to search everything in your home, car or on your person.
Can you examine the warrant?
If you ask to see the search warrant, the officers must comply. However, if you do not ask, they probably won’t voluntarily give you a peek. Always ask the police for permission to examine the warrant and obtain a copy.
What should you look for?
A valid Pennsylvania search warrant must contain the signature of the issuing authority or judge. It should also include the time and date the warrant was issued. Other things to look for include:
- Details regarding the specific place or person to be searched
- Specific property or items to be searched for and subsequently seized (if found)
- The timeframe in which the warrant must be executed, generally no more than two days after issuance
Most search warrants must be executed during the daytime between 6 a.m. and 10 p.m. However, if a judge authorized a nighttime search, the warrant must contain such authorization.
Why does it matter?
If the police wrongfully execute a warrant (searching in unauthorized areas, etc.), it can make a difference in the outcome of your case. Always consider getting a professional review of your case, especially if the search warrant contributed to your arrest.