As a U.S. citizen, you have certain inherent rights that protect you from unlawful arrest or legal action. One such right is your right to be secure in your person, papers, houses and effects against irrational searches and seizures. The fourth amendment, which covers these rights, also states that a legal body or authority shall not issue a warrant without probable cause. If you recently learned that there is a search warrant against you or your New York property, you may wonder if the warrant is valid. FindLaw explains warrants and probable cause.

Before a court will issue a warrant, an officer of the law must sign an affidavit that articulates why he or she believes there is probable cause to conduct a search, seize property or arrest a person. “Probable cause” exists when circumstances and facts which the officer knows to be true provide the basis for a reasonable person to believe that a crime occurred. If, after reviewing the entire picture, a judge agrees that adequate cause exists, he or she may issue the warrant.

Of course, there are plenty of instances in which an officer does not need a warrant to conduct a search or make an arrest. For instance, if you were to commit a felony in public or in front of a public officer, there would not exist the need for a warrant. However, the prosecution must still be able to demonstrate that probable cause prompted the offer to conduct the search, seize the property or make the arrest.

This article is for educational purposes only. You should not use it as legal advice.