If a police officer presents you with a search warrant, would you know what to do?
Search warrants give police officers the right to search your home, workplace or vehicle to look for evidence of a crime.
Being the target of a search warrant can cause a great deal of stress, and emotions often run high when a search warrant is being carried out.
But if you’re ever subject to a search warrant, try to stay calm. Do not interfere with what the officers are doing. And pay close attention to the police officers’ behavior and what items they take as evidence.
If you think police officers have violated your rights during a search, contact an attorney immediately. An experienced defense lawyer knows your rights as well as the rights of law enforcement and can fight to protect your rights if they were, in fact, violated.
To learn more about how search warrants work in South Carolina, and what else you should do if you’re the subject of a search warrant, read on.
Search Warrant Basics
A search warrant is a legal document issued and signed by a judge that allows law enforcement officers to search for certain items at a particular place and time. To receive the search warrant, police officers must swear an oath that the information in the search warrant is true.
Law enforcement officials must have probable cause to get a search warrant, and a judge must agree that the warrant is necessary to the case. Probable cause means that officers have solid reasons to believe that you’re involved in a crime and that a search warrant will help them find evidence to prove your involvement.
Search warrants must be specific. In other words, police officers may only search for what’s listed in the warrant, and they may only search in the location indicated on the search warrant. However, police are authorized to take contraband materials—such as illegal drugs or weapons—that they find during a search, even if those objects were not listed in the search warrant.
How Search Warrants Work
After the police get a search warrant, they’ll act on it as soon as possible—and you need to know what to expect at every stage of the search.
How the search starts:
Police officers will show up at your home, job site or car —wherever the search warrant allows them to conduct a search. Officers should knock and announce their presence according to a “knock and announce” rule that is part of your Fourth Amendment Constitutional rights.
You should greet the officers, ask to see the search warrant and then let the officers into your home, workplace or car.
If you don’t respond to the officers’ knock for whatever reason, the police will enter the property they’re authorized to search. Once police are inside your property, the search will begin.
Once the police have entered the property:
As soon as police officers are in your home, at your job, or searching your car, you should ask to see the search warrant if you didn’t already ask for it when they arrived. You have the right to verify that they really are allowed to conduct the search.
As police are searching:
While police officers are conducting their search, you should stay out of their way. Otherwise, you could face additional charges like impeding an investigation.
Police officers have to behave in a reasonable and respectful manner during the search, but they don’t have to grant your requests. Don’t fight or argue with officers about what items they can and can’t take.
After the search, if you believe your rights have been violated, speak to a lawyer.
Stop searching for answers. Consult a lawyer right away.
Law enforcement officials are supposed to follow certain rules when executing a search warrant.
If you believe you were the victim of an illegal search, or if you think police violated your rights while executing a search warrant, contact an attorney right away.
Our experienced team at Kent Collins Law is here to fight for you and to protect your rights. We can answer your questions about search warrants and help you file a complaint or a lawsuit.
To schedule a free consultation, call us at 803-808-0905 or fill out our online form.