Understanding the scope of search warrants
When a judge grants a search warrant, it allows police to search for evidence of a crime. The warrant must state the specific place to be searched, as well as the items to be seized.
In other words, a search warrant does not give police unlimited permission to search. They may search only the area specified in the warrant, and seize only the specified items. However, there are exceptions.
A search may go beyond the scope of a warrant if police are protecting their own safety or the safety of others. A search may also go beyond the scope of a warrant if police need to act to prevent the destruction of evidence. Additionally, police may seize items that are not specified in the warrant only if those items are in plain view while the search is being conducted.
If you are facing a criminal charge after police obtained a search warrant, it is important for you to understand the scope of that warrant and whether police conducted the search in a lawful manner. It is also important for you to have legal counsel from an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.
For more on these matters, please see our previous post, “Can police search your car after smelling cannabis?“