How Do Police Officers Get Search Warrants?

Due to the Fourth Amendment, the US Constitution protects American citizens from government intrusions like search and seizure of assets and property or even people themselves. This law makes people feel really protected and balances security and liberty in the society.

Chattanooga criminal defense attorneys at McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC are working hard to help the accused. Although it is an extremely common process, a search warrant may differ upon jurisdiction. Unfortunately, it is greatly misunderstood both  by the law enforcement and civilians — resulting in lots of problems during court process. That’s why, it is better to start with understanding –

What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is an order signed by a judge or a magistrate that permits law enforcement agent to accomplish a “search and seizure” procedure on an individual, a location, or a building for chances of locating evidence or capturing something in the act that will lead to incrimination. The judge who will provide the search warrant must be neutral. It suggests that they must not be associated with the police in any way.

The search warrant should include not only the place where the crime was most likely to occur, but also reasonable time and schedule, including details of the entity that will be searched and its legal purpose.

If you are afraid of being searched, you should be aware of how the police could do it and what grounds should they have for it.

How Do Police Officers Get Search Warrants?

No one can just go and get a search warrant. This is a lengthy process and police officer should apply for a search warrant on a judicial court and prove that the entity to be searched or seized has a probable cause.   A judge needs an affidavit having all the observations of the officer himself or various other witnesses prior to providing a search warrant.

The affidavit includes:
  • Info on the properties that will be searched
  • Offense that will be charged once the entity is found
  • Reasons why the police think the entity is in the area

The law enforcement agent needs to likewise show himself or herself worthy of asking for a search warrant via offering records that define their setting and authority, the regulations they are acting under, as well as the force and also resources needed to accomplish the procedure. These must all be gone along with the evidence proof that will certainly even more strengthen the application.


First of all, search warrants need to be made within the set time-frame. When a search warrant is released, the law enforcement has only 14 days to do it from 6:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m.

Secondly, there should be a “knock notice” or the announcement of the police presence to notify the inhabitants of the area. However, if you refuse to open the door or let them in, the police can take actions such as breaking or restraining people if needed.

Thirdly, during the search the law enforcement officer can only search the areas included in the warrant and where the entity should reasonably be. However, because of the plain view doctrine, officers could pick the entity if in plain sight regardless of the location.

How Can You Protect Yourself?

To keep everything within the law and not to aggravate your situation, you have the right to challenge the search once it completed. The search warrant is considered completed after submitting a search warrant return document by the police to the court. This document includes the process of the search and the items obtained are reported.

 Some factors the accused can operate with:
  • Going beyond the scope of the search or searching on people as well as places not covered by the warrant
  • Mistreatment by police officers
  • Fabricated probable cause

If you are being accused and you face a search warrant, it is vital to get a lawyer immediately. The criminal law, both federal and state, is complex and complicated.  You should not talk with anyone else and you should not cooperate with the police or their investigators without first retaining a lawyer. At McKoon, Williams, Atchley & Stanley, PLLC, we provide knowledgeable criminal defense representation to clients of Chattanooga and throughout the surrounding areas. Contact us as soon as possible!