How to Obtain a Warrant


A police officer investigating a suspected crime will seek to obtain a search warrant, which a judge must issue upon determination that it is legally necessary. If the police see a crime being committed or evidence of a crime in plain view, however, a search warrant is no longer necessary under the law and whatever the police find on the property is admissible in court. There also are consent searches, in which the property owner voluntarily allows the police to search without a warrant.

  • Interview witnesses to the crime and document any suspicious activities personally observed. Provide these documents to the judge as proof of probable cause, showing that it is necessary to proceed with a thorough investigation of a person's property to gather more evidence.

  • Submit a written statement or affidavit to the judge under oath to enable the judge to decide whether a search warrant is necessary.

  • The judge or magistrate will speak to the witness involved, either in person or over the phone, especially when there is a sense of urgency to the crime investigation.

  • Obey the directions of the search warrant. Do not use anonymous tips or rumors to support probable cause. Get reliable sources.

  • Search only the places specified in the search warrant. Do not search the suspect's house If the warrant specifies that only the suspect's front yard can be searched.

Tips & Warnings

  • If the search produces enough evidence of suspicious activities and a broader search is required, the judge will issue another search warrant to that effect.
  • If a witness is being interviewed, the source has to be reliable to initiate a search warrant.


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