Should a search warrant have been obtained in this situation? Why or why not?
Police officers obtain search warrants by convincing a judge or magistrate that they have "probable cause" to believe that criminal activity is occurring at the place to be searched or that evidence of a crime may be found there. [ Usually, the police provide the judge or magistrate with information in the form of written statements under oath, called "affidavits," which report either their own
observations, or those of private citizens or police undercover informants. If the magistrate believes that the affidavit establishes probable cause to conduct a search, he or she will issue a warrant.
The suspect, who may be connected with the place to be searched, is not present when the warrant is issued and therefore cannot contest the issue of probable cause at that time. However, the suspect can later challenge the validity of the warrant before trial.
What Police Can Search for and Seize Under a Warrant
The police can search only the place described in a warrant and usually can seize only the property that the warrant describes. The police cannot search a house if the warrant specifies the backyard, nor can they search for weapons if the warrant specifies marijuana plants. However, this does not mean that police officers can seize only those items listed in the warrant. If, in the course of their search, police officers come across contraband or evidence of a crime that is not listed in the warrant, they can lawfully seize the unlisted items.
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