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What makes a search warrant legal?

Search warrants are an indispensable part of criminal procedure. Criminal charges often originate from evidence seized from the execution of a search warrant. Although search warrants are commonly utilized by law enforcement to seize evidence, there are statutory and constitutional guidelines that must be followed for the evidence to be admissible in court.

  1. Affidavit: California Penal Code Sections 1526 and 1527 provide that a search warrant must rest on one or more sufficient affidavits.
  2. Neutral and Detached magistrate: California Penal Code Section 808 addresses neutral and detached magistrate. Specifically, a magistrate can be a Supreme Court and court of appeals justice or superior court judge.
  3. Writing: California Penal Code Sections 1523 and 1529 state that the search warrant must be in writing.
  4. Signature: the search warrant must be signed by a magistrate.
  5. Peace Officer: the search warrant must be directed to a peace officer, California Penal Code Section 1523, 1528(a). Peace officers are not the only persons that can serve search warrants, however.
  6. Affiant: the search warrant must name the affiant – the person who swears that the information contained in the affidavit is truthful.
  7. Grounds: the search warrant must specify the statutory grounds that it is based on, California Penal Code Section 1529. California Penal Code Section 1524(a) specifies the grounds.
  8. Particularity: the search warrant must describe the person and place to be searched and the property to be seized with" reasonable particularity," California Penal Code Section 1529.

A search warrant must meet these legal guidelines or the evidence obtained as a result of the search warrant may be excluded in court. If you have been arrested or charged from evidence seized during the execution of search warrant, contact my office today. I will provide a free, confidential consultation.