Las Vegas Search Warrants

Search Warrants in Nevada

Law enforcement officers are permitted to search suspects or those under arrest subject to certain carefully prescribed procedures so as not to intrude on that person’s right of privacy or constitutionally protected right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects people from unwarranted or illegal searches conducted by police by first requiring police to establish probable cause that a crime has been committed and then allowing a search only with a court-issued search warrant.

The courts have allowed a number of exceptions to the search warrant requirement, especially in situations where obtaining a search warrant would not be practicable and would jeopardize the safety of police or others or could result in the destruction of evidence or contraband.

Search Warrant Requirements

Before a search warrant can be issued, a law enforcement officer must first present to a judge an application or affidavit describing evidence of criminal wrongdoing or establishing probable cause that a crime has been committed by a specific person. The affidavit may be oral or written.

The warrant must also state that the place to be searched is suspected of containing certain evidence of the crime. The search must also be limited in scope and be reasonable. The warrant must also describe the evidence sought and that it may be found in a particular location.

The reasons or grounds for the warrant may be stolen property, property that evidences the commission of a felony, items that may be used to commit a felony, child pornography, or cases where an arrest warrant has already been issued.

Exceptions to the Warrant Requirement

• Hot Pursuit

If someone suspected of committing a crime is fleeing law enforcement officers, the police may enter a person’s home or property to pursue the suspect.

• Consent

A person may consent to the police searching his person, vehicle or home. The consent must be voluntary and freely given.

• Exigent Circumstances

A very broad exception is exigent circumstances where there is an emergency. This would include situations where someone’s life is in danger, the suspect is escaping, or evidence is about to be destroyed or removed. In some cases, police may enter a house without a warrant to secure it and to prevent the destruction of evidence while a search warrant is being obtained.

• Search Incident to Arrest

When someone is placed under arrest, the officers have the right to search the person and the immediate area within that person’s presence for weapons. For example, if a person was arrested in his kitchen, the police may search the kitchen but not the bedroom since it is not within the immediate presence of the arrestee.

• Traffic Stops

If police stop a vehicle for violating a traffic law or if the driver is reasonably suspected of driving under the influence, police may search the vehicle but only if they believe the person has contraband or incriminating evidence.

• Plain View

If contraband or evidence of criminal wrongdoing is open to public view, the police have the right to seize it without a search warrant.

Defenses to a Search Warrant in Nevada

Search warrants may be challenged in various ways.

• Lack of probable cause. The officer may have presented false testimony in the affidavit or application or failed to show the likelihood that criminal evidence would be found in the place to be searched.

• Search was overbroad. The officers extended the search to areas not listed in the search warrant or seized evidence not named in the warrant, not in public view or which was not clear evidence of the commission of a felony.

• Application fails to show reliability. Although informants or even drug-sniffing dogs may be used to establish probable cause, their reliability must be proved sufficient to meet certain standards.

Challenging a search warrant demands the knowledge and experience of seasoned criminal defense attorneys. If you or a loved one are facing serious criminal charges, promptly contact Las Vegas criminal defense attorney Brett Whipple to protect your constitutional rights at 702.731.0000

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