What are search warrants?

It is important for individuals facing drug charges or other criminal charges to be familiar with their rights and how those rights impact criminal defense options. One important right that all individuals accused of crimes have is the right to defend against the charges against them. The best criminal defense option for a particular situation is a contextual decision that should be carefully made based on familiarity with the individual's unique situation and the rights all individuals accused of crimes enjoy. Many individuals accused of a crime may have heard of the importance of a search warrant but wondered what the importance actually is.

Search warrants are warrants issued by a competent authority to search a specified location without the consent of the occupant. According to the Fourth Amendment, individuals accused of crimes are protected from unreasonable searches and seizures. Search warrants cannot be issued without probable cause and must name the place to be searched and the items to be seized. Subject to some exceptions, a valid search warrant is required for a search to be considered legal. If a search warrant is illegally obtained or not obtained at all, some or all of what has been seized may be challenged.

There may be other opportunities to challenge evidence against an accused individual based on the evidence against the accused individual, the facts of the case and if any of the rights of the accused individual were violated. The police and other authorities are required to follow procedures designed to protect individuals accused of crimes, and if they fail to do so, it may provide the basis for a criminal defense. Different criminal defense options may be complex but are important to understand.

Drug charges and other criminal charges are serious, so it is important to know when alleged evidence collected by authorities may be subject to challenge. Challenges to evidence and other considerations are all part of a strong criminal defense strategy that accused individuals should be familiar with.

Source: Legal Information Institute, "Search Warrant," Accessed Feb. 15, 2016

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