We Fight To Win

Attorney Arie Lipinski

A search warrant must be specific in detail and limited in scope

On Behalf of | May 14, 2024 | Criminal Defense

The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unlawful searches or seizures. Therefore, before Indiana law enforcement officers can search you or your property for evidence of a crime, they will need to acquire a valid search warrant.

What is required for a search warrant to be valid?

Under Indiana Code 35-33-5, officers will first need to prepare a search warrant affidavit and submit it to the judge. If the judge determines there is probable cause, he or she will sign off on the warrant.

Generally, the affidavit must include the following information:

  • Description of the alleged crime committed.
  • Description of the place to be searched.
  • Description of the items the officers are expecting to find.
  • Reasonable belief that the above items will be found in the location specified.

Searches are limited in scope

Police officers must be specific and detailed when describing the area to be searched. Once a search warrant has been approved, it is important that law enforcement officers only search the area specified in the warrant. Conducting searches of areas outside of the scope of the warrant or seizing unapproved items could constitute an illegal search and seizure.

Are officers ever allowed to search outside the scope of the warrant?

While searching an area not covered by the warrant is generally illegal, there are some exceptions. Police may search outside the scope or seize evidence beyond the scope of the warrant if:

  • The officer is ensuring their own safety.
  • The officer is ensuring the safety of others.
  • The officer sees evidence “in plain view” during the search.
  • The officer is attempting to prevent evidence from being destroyed.

Proving that the search was unlawful may be a valid criminal defense strategy to fight the charges you are facing. Any evidence obtained in an illegal search is likely to be suppressed and therefore cannot be used against you in court.