What is Considered Probable Cause for a Search Warrant?

In the United States, law enforcement officers are required to uphold specific legal standards while conducting their duties. For instance, a police officer cannot arrest you, conduct a search, or seize your property without valid reasoning. Police officers must have probable cause before taking any such actions. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures. Law enforcement officers must have probable cause supported by sufficient evidence that a crime has been committed to be issued a warrant. If an officer searches without probable cause, it could result in unlawful evidence collection. If you believe you are the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, it’s in your best interest to contact a determined Rockland County Criminal Defense Attorney who can help protect your rights. Please continue reading to learn what probable cause is needed to issue a search warrant in New York. 

What Probable Cause is Needed to Issue a Search Warrant?

Firstly, probable cause is a legal basis that law enforcement officers must meet to make an arrest, conduct a search, seize property, or receive a warrant. A search warrant is a document issued by a judge or magistrate that enables law enforcement officers to search a specific place, such as a home, vehicle, or business premises, on a particular date and time. To obtain this document, law enforcement officers must demonstrate probable cause that evidence of a crime or contraband will likely be found in the location they are requesting to be searched. Probable cause is the reasonable belief that an individual will commit or has committed a crime.

For instance, if a reliable informant notified a police officer that a house was being used to manufacture or sell drugs and the office noticed a lot of foot traffic at all houses, they may have sufficient evidence to ask a judge for a search warrant. Law enforcement officers don’t have to be 100% certain that a crime was committed at the place to be searched to have sufficient probable cause for a search warrant. However, they must have a legitimate and reasonable suspicion to search or seize someone’s property or to make an arrest. A judge or magistrate will not sign the warrant without sufficient evidence to support their beliefs.

What Should I Do If My Constitutional Rights Are Violated?

If law enforcement officers lack probable cause and execute a search, any evidence seized will be deemed inadmissible. As mentioned above, your Fourth Amendment right protects you from unreasonable searches and seizures. Additionally, a search warrant will limit the core of a search to certain areas of your property. Therefore, if they search at any locations outside the areas outlined in the document, they would violate the warrant, and the evidence could be suppressed.

If you are facing criminal charges but believe you are the victim of an unreasonable search and seizure, please don’t hesitate to contact our skilled Rockland County criminal defense attorneys, who can file a motion to suppress any evidence that violates your constitutional rights. At The Law Office of Carl Spector, we are prepared to provide you with the quality legal representation you need to maximize your chances of achieving the best possible outcome for your case.