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What is a search warrant?

Readers of this New York criminal defense legal blog are asked to imagine the following situation. An individual is sitting at home watching television and suddenly there is a knock at their door. When they open it, they find a number of police officers standing before them who claim that they will be searching the premises of the individual's home. They do not provide the individual with any explanation of why they are taking such action.

Anyone who has finished the above-included situation may immediately feel uncomfortable by the police officers' misuse of power and the apparent invasion of privacy suffered by the individual. This is because under the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution individuals are to be protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. That the police officers have no good reason to search the individual's home makes the search unreasonable: if they had a good reason to search they should have obtained a search warrant.

A search warrant may be issued to law enforcement officials, if they have probable cause of illegal conduct or contraband in a particular location. The document of the search warrant must state where the law enforcement officials may search and what it is they believe they will find. Search warrants are issued to prevent the arbitrary and illegal violation of individuals' Fourth Amendment rights.

Individuals who have had search warrants served to them may wish to consult with criminal defense attorneys in their communities. Evidence obtained from a search may be used to bring criminal charges against a person and preparing oneself for possible legal problems is a proactive way to protect their rights.

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