In New York, a search warrant allows law enforcement officers to search a specific place or area, usually one’s home or place of business, at a specific time and seize specific items. For example, say that police investigators suspect that you are involved in drug trafficking or selling drugs out of your home. The investigators may ask a judge for a search warrant authorizing them to search your home at 7pm and seize any drugs they find there.
Most commonly, search warrants obtained by police officers in New York State are sought for the discovery of guns or drugs. Before a warrant can be issued, the police must prepare a written search warrant affidavit demonstrating probable cause. The information relied upon in the affidavit may be based on the observation of contraband in a specific place by either a police officer or police informant. However, if the police informant is anonymous, then the information provided must be corroborated. Typically, the police will not apply for a warrant until they can affirm to a judge that an undercover police officer or informant has seen contraband in a specific place, and has done so recently. Thus, it is impermissible for the police to simply base a search warrant affidavit on hearsay or rumors of illegal conduct.
Furthermore, the particularity requirement requires that the police affidavit specify the particular type of contraband items to be discovered. Therefore, the corresponding warrant cannot be used as a license to search everywhere in the premises if the specified items could not logically be found in certain areas. For example, if the warrant was for the discovery of a stolen vehicle, then the police could search your garage but not rooms inside your house. However, any contraband found during a search of any kind can be confiscated even if the search is later determined to be unconstitutional.
One last requirement, unless the police have obtained a “No-Knock” warrant, is that if you ask the police to see the warrant, they must show it to you so you can inspect it prior to or contemporaneously with the search.
The Mouganis Law Firm is a New York criminal defense firm representing clients in criminal defense and civil rights matters in the Greater Rochester Area of New York. Should you have any questions and require the services of an experienced criminal defense attorney, please contact us at (585) 301-2496. Rochester, New York Criminal Defense Attorney.