What is Probable Cause for a Warrant?

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It is every United States citizen’s constitutional right to not be subjected to unlawful searches and seizures. However, if the police or another law enforcement agency suspects that a crime has been committed they can request a warrant from a judge. A judge may issue a search warrant or arrest warrant that allows police to conduct otherwise illegal searches and seizures of assets given that there is probable cause. To ensure your rights are protected work with a skilled Mercer County criminal defense lawyer.

What is a Warrant?

A warrant is a written authorization issued by a judge or government official. While searches and seizures are unlawful, a warrant permits law enforcement to act in opposition to those laws. It can allow the police to search a person, their home, car, and other property and personal belongings. The purpose of a warrant is to allow law enforcement to gather evidence related to suspected criminal activity.

Warrants can be issued to search a location or arrest a person. Arrest warrants do not generally expire whereas search warrants may have a deadline. Police generally have as long as needed to reasonably execute a search. Depending on what they are authorized to search they may need only a few hours or several days.

What is Probable Cause?

Probable cause is a standard that must be met before a judge allows a person or their property to be searched or seized. It is evidence that would generally convince a reasonable person to believe that there is criminal activity occurring and that evidence of such criminal activity will be found with this person or at this place.

The standard of probable cause can be reached when there is enough factual evidence that it is reasonable to believe that the law has been violated. If this standard is met then there is enough probable cause for a judge to issue a warrant.

Can You Fight a Warrant?

Sometimes you can fight against a warrant with the help of a skilled attorney. If you are approached with a signed warrant from a judge it is considered valid and you must abide by the authority. This means that law enforcement is authorized to make an arrest or search the premises. However, suppose you later find yourself facing criminal charges based on information uncovered during the search. In that case, you may be able to challenge the validity of a warrant depending on the situation.

If you can uncover evidence that the probable cause standard was met due to false evidence or recklessness on the part of law enforcement, you could have the evidence dismissed and charges dropped.

You may also be able to fight evidence obtained from a warrant if the police did not follow proper procedures. Some warrants will specify a time of day that they can execute a search. If they search outside of the designated time the search may be considered illegal. Additionally, some warrants allow the police to enter the premises without knocking or warning. However, unless the warrant specifically states that they do not have to, they must knock prior to entering. If they do not then they are conducting an unlawful search.

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