My House and Car Were Searched But the Warrant Only Says the Building. What Gives
Two principal issues govern the scope of the warrant. The first is the area of the search and whether property beyond the address or building specified in the warrant is included. Ordinarily a warrant for a building including such words as premises or curtilage allows search of the building address as well as the yard, garage and unattached sheds. Vehicles that appear to be under the control of the occupant may be searched as well.
What Can They Search?
Depends on the warrant. If the cops are looking for a canary's corpse they can search a cupboard but not a locket. If they are looking for a hippopotamus they can search the living room or the garage bu no in the microwave oven. No property may be unnecessarily destroyed or damaged. Once the items in the warrant are found the search must stop.
A common complaint is that the cops came at 6 am without warning. If they have a nighttime warrant they can do that. Such warrants may be issued where there is reasonable cause to believe that evidence will be concealed, destroyed, damaged or altered if the search is delayed. Other factors may include the imminent consumption of drugs or officer safety.
The Cops Busted Into My House Without Knocking
Usually warrants are knock and announce warrants. Unlawful entry into the target area may invalidate the search, even if the door is unlocked. However if there is reason to enter, as in an emergency and the entry is reasonable it will not be invalidated. In addition no-knock warrants can be issued where there is a reasonable suspicion that knocking and announcing their presence would be futile or dangerous or that it would allow destruction of evidence. So if you come home to find that your house was searched under a no knock warrant you can still complain but your complaints are likely to fall on deaf ears.
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