A Search Warrant Is Expressed On Its Face. It’s A Warrant To Search Something.
Video Transcribed: Tulsa Attorney Isaiah Brydie with Urban Legal here. And today’s video is going to be a continuation on the subject of criminal law and criminal procedure. And this video is actually going to be more specifically on warrants. So we’re going to be talking about when the police need a warrant, what all can they do under that warrant and stuff like that.
So the first question is, when do warrants usually come up? Well, they usually come up when the police go to a home. So we’re going to start with the home. So as a general matter, the police do not need a search warrant to come up to your front door of your house. So it’s actually quite easy knowledge and common law to understand that when you have a walkway from the street up to your front door, it actually is seen under the law as inviting people up to your front door.
That’s why door to door salesmen or certain religious groups can come up to your front door unsolicited because the law views just having the front door and having a walkway as a invitation for people to come up to their front door. So the police can come to your front door and then they can knock on the door, ask how you’re doing and can even ask to go ahead and search. So the police can always ask you to do things and if you consent to it then the police can generally do it as a matter of law.
So going away from that, let’s go into actually search warrants. So a search warrant is kind of expressed on its face. It’s a warrant to search something. Usually they’re pretty broad in scope just because the judge will want to encapsulate everything that may have evidence, everything that could store evidence or lead to the storage of or the discovery of some evidence. So usually a search warrant will be quite broad. Usually they’ll name specific things in there like safes or attic spaces, things of that nature that are in themselves exclusive. And once the police have that search warrant, they can go and they can search those things.
So the search warrant needs probable cause and you need to have that probable cause be based on sufficient evidence. Usually it could be an investigation that took place and the police have good information as far as this house contains drugs and this much drugs. Or maybe it came from a confidential informant and that confidential informant themselves have tests to have some kind of track record of giving valid statements and things like that. So once the police have that search warrant, once they have probable cause and they go to the judge and they express that probable cause, then they get the judge to give that search warrant and then the police can come to your house and search.
So what are the things that they can’t do with a search warrant? Well they can’t arrest people just with the search warrant. So they can’t show up to your house with a search warrant and then arrest you. Now they can arrest you if they find things in your house that are illegal. But then they have to establish a chain of custody or control and things of that nature.
So the next type of warrant is going to be an arrest warrant. Now arrest warrants are really, really interesting. They encapsulate the same requirements needed, so probable cause to suspect this individual of committing a crime. The police then go to the judge and then the judge signs the arrest warrant and then the police can go anywhere where they reasonably believe that that person is going to be at. So usually they’re going to show up at their house or at a family member’s house, stuff like that. So what can the police do under a arrest warrant? Well, again, it’s readily apparent on its face. It is a warrant to arrest somebody. In lieu of the police having probable cause right then and there of that person committing a crime, the police have had probable cause basically memorialized in a warrant of a previous incident or something of that nature. So the police show up and they arrest you.
Well, the other things that the police can do under an arrest warrant as well, so the police can also, let’s say, let me give you a scenario of, so let’s say that the police show up at your house with an arrest warrant for you and they knock on the door. They might not even knock on the door, but let’s say the knock on the door and they open up the door and you’re sitting there on the couch. Well the police can arrest you right then and there, right there on the couch. Also, they can search everywhere in the area around you. So they can search the couch you are sitting on. They can search at the table in front of you. Generally they can search places where it could be apparent that you could have hidden evidence or places where you could have destroyed that evidence.
Simultaneous to that arrest, the police can also do a sweep of your home for any accomplices or any other persons that might be a threat to them. So while you are being arrested, this is the key thing there, while the arrest is occurring, the police can fan out through the home and check the rest of the home for other people and individuals and potentially arrest them as well or at least question and detain or detain and question them.
So that is the two types of warrants. So again you have your search warrant for searches and your arrest warrant for arrests and they both need probable cause. There are certain things that can happen under each.
And as a last point, and this actually comes up a lot, let’s say that someone is at your house and there is a arrest warrant for that person that is at your house. Can you make an objection to that arrest warrant? Well as a general matter, no. What you may be able to make an objection to however is the searching of the area around that individual. As a general matter, this would be asserting your fourth amendment rights against illegal searches and seizures. In order to invoke that right, you have to have a property interest in the thing that is being searched or seized.
So that person who is a visitor at your house, they can’t assert that right. You would have to assert that right for yourself because that person who was at your house doesn’t have a property interest in your property. So they can’t say, “Oh, hold on, wait, you can’t search my living room.” You would have to say that yourself. Go ahead and reach out at the website or give us a call and you guys have a good day.