A police officer comes to your home and knocks on the door. He or she hands you a piece of paper. On this paper are the words “search warrant.” You may know enough about this document to understand that a police officer is at your house to search for something.

What is the process of obtaining a search warrant? What information does the warrant need to have in it? Knowing your rights before the search is important.

How is a search warrant issued?

Search warrants are orders issued in the state’s name. The magistrate must sign the warrant and give it to a peace officer. The warrant gives the peace officer the right to search people, personal property or items.

The warrant is only issued when there is probable cause. The warrant must name or describe the person. It must also give information on the property or items law enforcement is searching for. And finally, the warrant has to include where the search is to take place.

Why is a search warrant issued?

The state of Arizona issues search warrants for many issues such as:

  • The property or items listed are stolen or embezzled items.
  • The property or items listed were for use in a public offense.
  • The property or items are in the possession of a person to intends to commit a public offense.
  • In the interest of public health, safety and welfare a public official must inspect the property.
  • The person listed has an outstanding arrest

What are your rights?

The U.S. Constitution allows for the police to do a search of your home if it is reasonable. However, you do not have to let an officer into your home unless he or she has a search warrant showing probable cause. The prosecution may not have a case against you if law enforcement illegally obtained any items.