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What is a Search Warrant?


Many people have heard about search warrants, but what are they exactly? Our Texas criminal defense lawyer explains.

Many people know that when police want to search a certain area, such as someone’s home, they often need to obtain a search warrant to do it. Search warrants are court orders, but they are not necessary in every situation. If you have been arrested or police have searched your property, it is important to understand your rights and whether the search was legal.

Understanding Search Warrants

In certain situations, police must obtain a warrant before they search a person’s property. To obtain a warrant, law enforcement must prove to a judge that they have probable cause to believe that a certain location contains evidence of a crime or that a crime is being committed. In many cases, police will obtain affidavits that include information about undercover police informants, observations of the public, or even the officers themselves to prove probable cause to a judge. When police can show a judge that they have probable cause, the judge will issue a search warrant.

What is Included in a Search Warrant?

A warrant does not give police the authority to search anywhere they would like. These documents are specific, and they outline certain properties, areas, and items that police have the authority to search. Search warrants also specifically state the evidence police are looking for.

For example, if a search warrant states that a storage building or garage can be searched, this does not give police permission to enter the home. Likewise, if police are searching for marijuana, they are prohibited from specifically searching for weapons. However, if police do come across evidence of another crime during their search, they can seize it.

When are Search Warrants Required?

People often mistakenly think that search warrants are always required, but that is not true. In any instance when the Fourth Amendment does not apply, a search warrant is not required. For example, if a suspicious spouse hires a private investigator to determine if their partner is cheating, the Fourth Amendment does not apply.

Additionally, police do not need to obtain a search warrant after they have made an arrest. For instance, if you were pulled over for drunk driving and the officer arrested you, they can then proceed to search your vehicle without your permission or a warrant.

Our Criminal Defense Lawyer in Texas Can Defend Against an Unlawful Search

Police officers sometimes hope that they can conduct an illegal search to obtain evidence against someone and that they will never be held accountable for it. It is for this reason that you need sound legal advice any time police search your property or arrest you. At Hoelscher Gebbia Cepeda, PLLC, our Texas criminal defense lawyer can provide the defense you need, make sure your rights are upheld, and give you the best chance of a favorable outcome. Call us now at (210) 222-9132 or fill out our online form to schedule a consultation and to learn more.