Amendment IV of the United States Constitution’s Bill of Rights codifies protections for citizens against “unreasonable” searches and seizures. This amendment, as well as Michigan and common law, also lays out the conditions for when police have the right to search places such as your home, office, and body, among certain other locations. Knowing these conditions and the process for executing a valid search warrant will allow you to be more confident and secure in your individual rights.
Validating a Search Warrant
For the police to obtain a valid search warrant, they must first put in a request for one. A neutral judge will receive this request, which usually comes in the form of an affidavit. This form gives information on the specific place or location the police want to search, in addition to the reasoning for why they believe they will find evidence of criminal activity. If the judge deems that there is indeed a “fair probability” that police will find illegal activity, he or she will sign a search warrant that gives police permission to execute a search.
When the individuals executing a search warrant arrive at your home, you should ask to see the warrant. Look for the address of the location they claim to have been authorized to search; if this does not match up with the location they actually search, you may have a defense later on in court to rule the evidence they find as inadmissible. You should also ensure that a signature from a judge is on the search warrant.
Situations in Which Search Warrant is Not Needed
As with many things in law, there are some exceptions in which police do not necessarily need a search warrant to search your property. One major exception is in the case of an individual’s vehicle. Police may be able to search your car if they pull you over (for a valid reason) and are able to see, in plain view, possible contraband. Also, if your car has been impounded, police may be able to search your car without a warrant.
If police want to search your property, they will often simply ask for your consent to execute a search. If they receive your consent, then a search warrant is not needed. If you feel that the police searching your home or business would not be advantageous for you, you should not allow the search. Police may say that you’re just delaying the inevitable or use another tactic to try to get you to consent to a search.
Even if it appears that you have been presented with a valid search warrant, it is possible you might be able to show the police did not satisfy all required steps in the process of searching a premises, seizing contraband or evidence, and, if it comes to it, arresting you. This can only be done with the guidance of an experienced criminal defense attorney who will tirelessly work to get you the best outcome possible. Dallo Law can help you with that; to reach out, call us today at (248) 283-7000.