One of the main concerns we have as lawyers is ensuring that you, our client, knows your rights so that you can prevent anyone from taking advantage of you or using the law to justify their own malicious intents. While sometimes it may seem that it is not the case, law enforcement has to abide by your rights, even if you are being arrested. This ensures that the entire arrest process and everything that occurs thereafter remains legal. If the police do not uphold your rights, there is a chance that both evidence and charges against you may be reduced or even dismissed entirely. In this post, we are going to go into detail about search warrants, what they are, and when police have to use them when they are investigating an alleged crime. Continue reading below to learn more.
What are Search Warrants?
In the broadest terms, a search warrant is a permission from a judge for the police to go to a certain location to look for a specific item. Most commonly police will obtain a search warrant by appealing to a judge and providing the said judge with evidence that there is some sort of illegal activity that can be found at the location that is outlined in the warrant. When it comes to evidence, it can include observations or suggestions provided by other people that indicate any sort of criminal activity. If the evidence is enough to compel the judge, a search warrant will likely be issued.
Most commonly evidence is established through:
- Confidential police informant
- Police officers
- Witness to the alleged crime
- Victim of the alleged crime
Where Can Police Search with a Search Warrant?
A search warrant only allows for police to search the specific area that is outlined in the warrant documents. For example, if a search warrant says that there are illegal marijuana plants being grown in the backyard of 1234 Smith Street, the police can only search the backyard of that property. They are not able to enter the home on the property or search for other illegal items like weapons. However, if the police should find weapons when they are searching the backyard for the plants, these can be seized as evidence. Search warrants can also apply to people, but only the person that is listed on the warrant.
However, there are certain cases in which law enforcement does not need a warrant in order to conduct a search. These are as follow:
Consent Was Given
The individual in control of the premises gave permission for law enforcement to enter the space and search it. Keep in mind that police officers do not have to inform people of their right to refuse a search.
Plain View Doctrine
When potential contraband or evidence is in plain view and an officer can see it, this type of evidence can be seized without a warrant.
Connection with Arrest
If an officer is arresting someone, the person and the area in the immediate control can all be searched by law enforcement.
Stop and Frisk
If the police suspect someone of criminal activity, they are able to frisk that suspect for weapons.
If public safety or loss of evidence would result from visiting a judge to get a warrant, police may be able to search and seize evidence without a warrant.
Contact Your Fort Collins Attorney
If you think your rights have been violated and you want to speak with a criminal attorney who can help you with your case, we would suggest that you contact the legal team at the Law Offices of Loomis and Greene today. We will review your case and go above and beyond to ensure your rights are protected.