As a citizen of the United States (and of the state of Texas), you are protected from unreasonable search and seizure. This means that in order for a police officer to search your person, your home, your car (with some exceptions), or any other of your belongings, they must have your permission or a search warrant to do so. Here’s what you need to know about what a search warrant is, how police obtain a search warrant, and what you should do if police approach you with a search warrant in Texas.
As defined in article 18.01 of Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a search warrant is a written order that is issued by a judge that commands an officer to search a given property, at a given time, and seize items identified within the warrant. For example, a search warrant may explain that officers are granted the authority to enter 1234 ABC Road on January 1, 2018 between the hours of 9:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. for the purpose of seizing documents or items related to the sale or possession of drugs.
Further explained by Texas Code of Criminal Procedure, a judge cannot issue a search warrant within the limits of the state unless officers present proof that there is probable cause to do so. To be sure, an affidavit that gives evidence of “substantial facts establishing probable cause” must be filed before a search warrant is issued.
This requirement stems from the Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution and Article 1 Sec. 9 of the Texas Constitution, although the 4th Amendment or Texas Constitution do not explicitly define what probable cause is. Today, probable cause has been interpreted to mean that there is evidence to suggest that a search of the premises will, more likely than not, result in evidence showing that a crime has been committed.
If law enforcement officers come to your house and ask you if they can search your property, you should ask if they have a search warrant. If they say no, you should politely refuse the search. If they say yes, you should exercise your right to see the warrant. Check the warrant carefully – if there are errors on the warrant, such as a mistype of the address, point out the mistake to the officers and tell them to return when they have the correct warrant. The officers may refuse and search anyway, or they may leave someone at the residence to secure the scene while they get a corrected warrant.
If the warrant is indeed legitimate, you are required to allow them to enter, and you should cooperate with the request to search. However, this does not mean that you have to answer any questions. Instead, ask if you are allowed to watch the search, and take notes as you do. You should contact your attorney as soon as possible.
When evidence is seized against you, this evidence can be used against you in a court of law. At the law offices of Brent D. Bowen, Attorney at Law, our experienced Texas criminal defense attorney knows how to ensure that all evidence that is illegally obtained (without a proper warrant) is withheld. Brent D. Bowen also knows how to provide you with the aggressive legal representation you deserve. For a free consultation, contact us today online or by phone.