Being searched by the police or being handed a warrant is a frightening prospect. However, it’s important to keep a level head and understand your rights when it comes to searches and warrants. Here are answers to the questions you want to know.
1. What Is a Warrant?
Simply defined, a warrant is a document, signed by a judge, that gives law enforcement officers the authority to go into a premises (residential or commercial) and search or make an arrest. The warrant, however, only gives officers the authority to enter the place described in the warrant and seize items described in the warrant.
2. What If Officers Do Not Have a Warrant?
If officers approach your home without a warrant to enter, you have the legal right to politely decline them entrance. The officers cannot obtain a warrant based on your refusal to allow them to enter your home — they must have other sufficient evidence to obtain a warrant with. Many officers will threaten people by telling them they’ll just go get a warrant, however, there’s a good chance that they won’t be able to get one if they don’t have enough evidence. However, if you consent to the officers entering your home without a warrant, they no longer have to get a court’s approval to conduct a search.
3. Do You Have to Answer Questions If Officers Have a Warrant?
Whether law enforcement officers have a warrant or not, you do not have to answer their questions. You have the right to remain silent while they conduct their search and if they make an arrest.
4. What If Officers Conduct a Search Without a Warrant?
If officers insist on entering your home and searching without a warrant or with an incorrect warrant, voice your concerns politely but do not interfere with the search because you could be arrested. If another person is at the premises, ask if they will witness that you did not consent to the search being done. Be sure to obtain badge and identification number for all officers conducting the search and contact a lawyer as soon as possible.
At the Law Offices of Donald J. Matson, we have the experience and resources to help you defend yourself against illegal search and seizure and can help you uphold your constitutional rights under the law. Call today for a consultation at (626) 792-1900.