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What Does a Search Warrant Mean for Your Criminal Case?

Judge warrant

By design, the process of convicting someone of a crime has many steps.  This is to prevent the state from punishing people for crimes they did not commit.  Many of the steps of criminal procedure happen before a defendant formally receives criminal charges.  In some cases, investigators search a private residence to find evidence to charge one of the residents of a crime of which they suspect him or her.  The Fourth Amendment protects against illegal searches of private property, so law enforcement must obtain a search warrant before they have the right to search a private residence.  If law enforcement has executed a search warrant on your property and you are worried about being charged with a crime, contact a Texas criminal defense lawyer.

How Do Investigators Get a Search Warrant?

If investigators want to search a residence or other private property, they must first obtain a search warrant from a judge in the jurisdiction where the property they want to search is located.  The investigators must submit an affidavit being specific about the location that they want to search, what they expect to find there, and what crime they think that a resident of the property committed.  The judge will not issue a warrant if the police simply say that they want to search your house because they think you look shady; they must indicate which evidence they think they will find and which crime that evidence indicates.

What Happens After the Police Search Your House?

After the police search your house, they must record in writing all the items they took from the property in a document called an inventory list.  They must file one copy of the inventory list with the court and give another copy to you.  If you have not hired a criminal defense lawyer by the time you receive the inventory list, you should do it immediately afterward.  The prosecution will be using the evidence from the search to convince a grand jury to formally charge you with a crime, so you should use it to build your defense.

Not everyone whose property gets searched ends up facing criminal charges.  A grand jury must decide that the evidence found in the search is strong enough to justify charging you with a crime.

How Can a Criminal Defense Lawyer Help You If Police Have Searched Your House?

A criminal defense lawyer can help you at every stage of your criminal case.  If a search warrant was involved, your lawyer may be able to argue that the judge was not justified in issuing the warrant.  Your lawyer might also argue that the evidence obtained during the search does not prove that you committed the crime of which you are being accused.

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