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What if a Search Warrant isn't dated or signed by a Judge in California is it valid?

Corcoran, CA |

The Lady I rent a room from was hit with a NTH search warrant and all occupant in the house were arrested upon looking at the search warrant it wasn't signed by any one and with me being a renter doesn't my name have to appear on the warrant as well as the lady I rent from ? Is the warrant valid though it has no signature or dated by a Judge ?

Attorney Answers 3


The original copy has to be signed by a judge, but they may have an officer outside a house waiting on it to be signed, so they may not even have a copy or merely a copy with no signature. Your name does not have to be on the warrant if the place to be searched is identified. If you are a renter in somone else's house you may get searched unless you have a locked entrance to your room and you are not allowed access to the rest of the house. Of course in the heat of the monet the cops are not going to listen to such an explanation but it may serve as a basis for a suppression motion later.

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Firstly, a valid warrant does require a signature but like my colleague suggested, during the moment of exercising the warrant, officers may not have a signed copy of the original search warrant. If later you find that the original warrant lacked proper authorization such as date and signature, there might be grounds for a suppression motion. However, under these facts, it is more likely that the officers just did not have a copy of the signed warrant is all.

As for your second question, your name does not have to be on the warrant if the location to be searched is identified on the warrant. Now, from what you are describing, it seems that you may have been renting space or a room from someone who had been leasing or renting the home from the landlord. This type of situation creates some unique legal questions that really depends on the facts of your particular case. Whether you were on the lease/rental agreement? Whether the room or space you were subleasing was separated from the rest of the home? Whether your room/space was locked thereby illustrating it was separate from the remainder of the rental space?

It seems that more information would be needed to properly answer your what is at the heart of your question which is whether the search was proper or not. I would suggest you contact an attorney.

This does not constitute legal advice and does not create an attorney-client relationship but is merely a general discussion of legal principles based upon a hypothetical.

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I agree with my colleagues. A valid warrant must be signed by a judge and that is describe the particular place to searched and items to be seized. As has been noted the copy you received could have excluded that signature and still been valid.

That said, it is not uncommon for police to misuse their authority and break the law, therefore you should contact an attorney to help you determine whether the warrant used in the search was valid.

As for the issue of searching your personal space, a more in depth fact analysis is requires to determine whether the search of your room was in violation of the 4th amendment. I recommend you contact a criminal defense attorney to help you make a fact analysis and determine whether there is any way for you to fight the search. Good Luck!

Gabriela M. Lopez, Esq.

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