What Happens When The Police Arrive At My Home With A Search Warrant?

If police officers arrive at your home with a search warrant, it will obviously be a very stressful, difficult, and possibly chaotic time. As such, it is important to understand the process by which police obtain a warrant, and what they may search for once they enter your home with a valid warrant.

A search warrant is an order signed by a judge giving police the legal authority to search for evidence of a crime in your home without your permission. However, under Indiana law, the police may only obtain a search warrant after showing there is probable cause. To do this, the police must prepare a written statement to present to a judge, known as an affidavit. The affidavit must describe the house or place to be searched and the things to be searched for, and allege the criminal offense related to that location. The affidavit must also state that police have good cause to believe the items sought are located in the home they want to search, and set forth the facts known to police about the crime in question. A judge will only issue the search warrant if he or she determines that probable cause has been established by the affidavit.

Once issued, the police must execute the warrant within 10 days, but it may be executed at any time, day or night, and on any day of the week. In most circumstances, the police must knock on your door and announce themselves when they arrive with the warrant. However, the “knock and announce” requirement can be removed by a judge. Police officers are also allowed to come into your home without knocking first in certain situations, such as when police are concerned for their safety or that evidence might be destroyed.

The search warrant must list the place to be searched and the property to be seized. The police may not search any areas or confiscate any property that is not listed. One important exception to this is the “plain view doctrine.” This doctrine allows police to lawfully seize any property located in areas where they were already allowed to search, provided that the criminal nature of the property is obvious. For example, if a warrant allows police to search your living room for a stolen firearm, and they find drugs on the coffee table while in the living room, they may legally seize the drugs and you could be charged with a crime because of it.

If you or someone you know has recently had their home searched by police, been accused of a crime, or has questions about the criminal process, please contact the experienced criminal defense attorneys in Indianapolis at Banks & Brower, LLC. We are available at all times by calling us at (317) 526-4630 or by emailing info@banksbrower.com. 24/7/365.