When federal investigators or local police officers show up at your home, you may not want to let them inside. If you don’t voluntarily authorize a search, they may come back with a warrant signed by a judge.
A search warrant gives police officers the legal right to go through someone’s private property without their consent. An officer typically needs compelling probable cause to convince a judge to sign a search warrant under Illinois state law.
The warrant the judge issues then theoretically grants law enforcement officers the right to access and search your property. Understanding the scope of the warrant can be crucial to your protection when the police search your property.
Judges typically limit the scope of a search warrant
When a police officer approaches a judge to request a warrant, they will explain what crime they believe has occurred and what evidence they hope to find. A judge will then give them a warrant.
In some cases, the police can also take certain property into their custody to search it. This practice is common with vehicles and electronic devices. Police officers will use a warrant to gain entry to a property, but they may then try searching for anything they can find that implicates someone in a crime.
For example, they might have a warrant allowing them to search your property for a weapon. If the warrant doesn’t specifically mention your vehicle or your electronics, you don’t necessarily have to grant them access to your car or allow them to take your computer.
Understanding the scope of a warrant helps you stand up for your rights
When you understand exactly what police officers can do with a specific warrant, you can assert your right more easily. Having someone there to advocate for you during the search can also help, as police officers often steamroll over the subject of the warrants as though their objections to certain behavior we’re not valid.
Understanding what the police should look for and where they can search could help you stop them if they try to exceed the authority granted by the warrant. When facing criminal charges or enduring a criminal investigation, understanding the rules about search warrants can help you better protect yourself.