Search warrant title on legal document

Search Warrant Basics in Indiana

Importance and Limitations of Indiana Search Warrants

The 4th Amendment of the US Constitution protects citizens against all unreasonable searches and seizures. Without knowing how this constitutional right is protected and enforced, you may suffer a violation of your 4th Amendment rights. Thus, let’s examine the basics of search warrants in Indiana.

What Is a Search Warrant?

Criminal investigations involve the service of search warrants. A search warrant is an order signed by a judge or a magistrate, allowing the police to search for evidence of a crime. Essentially, it is a legal authorization issued to the police to search for specific evidence, at a specified location, without the consent of the occupant.

Search warrants guarantee the protection of your 4th amendment rights. Subject to a few exceptions, evidence seized with invalid search warrants is inadmissible.

Search Warrant Requirements

Search warrants are issued only if there is probable cause. They must be requested in good faith by Indiana law enforcement officers, and only a “neutral and detached” judge or magistrate can issue search warrants after determining whether probable cause exists.

The requirement of probable cause must be met for a law enforcement officer to obtain a search warrant. All information concerning a search for evidence of a crime and indicating the basis of probable cause is submitted to a judge by the police. This is done in the form of a written statement (sometimes it can be done with oral testimony) known as an affidavit. An affidavit acts as a piece of evidence that supports police officers’ requests for a search warrant. If the affidavit is successful in establishing probable cause, a search warrant may be issued.

The police can only search the places and the properties listed on the warrant, and a judge may put further restrictions on how the search must take place. Unless given specific authority to do otherwise, police officers must “knock and announce” their identity and purpose of searching before making their way into the definite location and executing the warrant.

Search Warrant Exceptions

Although the 4th Amendment protects citizens against unreasonable searches and seizures, certain exceptions apply. Indiana police officers are authorized to search without obtaining a warrant in the following circumstances:

  • When the occupant of the specified location has consented to the search.
  • Administrative searches.
  • Searches at international borders are allowed without a probable cause.
  • In exigent circumstances where the destruction of evidence is imminent.
  • Search following the arrest of a suspect (otherwise known as a search incident to arrest).
  • Routine safety checks at premises where medical assistance may be required.
  • An inventory search of lawfully impounded vehicles.
  • Probation searches.
  • The Plain View Doctrine is also an exception to warrant requirement. The police are allowed to seize evidence found in “plain view” in locations where the police were lawfully present.
  • When police reasonably suspect someone of criminal activity, they may stop the person and frisk them.
  • Searches of cars if an officer detects the odor of marijuana or if a trained K9 indicates the presence of drugs.

Search Warrant Takeaways

Search warrants ensure the protection of citizens against law enforcement officials and the government. Under the Bill of Rights, the 4th Amendment (Amendment IV) to the United States Constitution, protects the rights of an accused until they are proven guilty. It guards the privacy of every citizen and prohibits unreasonable search and seizures.

However, law enforcement officers may only interfere with an individual’s 4th Amendment rights under specified circumstances and with a particular modus operandi, or methods of procedure. When the constitutional rights of a person are violated through an unlawful search and/or seizure, the evidence procured from that search cannot be used against them in court.

If you have a search warrant problem in Indiana or would like to discuss your matters further, call a Carmel criminal defense lawyer at Blankenship Law, LLC at (317) 680-5528 or contact the firm online. I, Attorney Eric Blankenship, offer free consultations and am available 24 hours of the day, 7 days a week to provide the legal guidance you need to navigate this challenging time.