Search Warrants

Gavel and handcuffs with red legal book

Many felony charges in Los Angeles rely on evidence obtained through the execution of a search warrant. Search warrants must be granted by a judge and allow the police to search a person’s home, car, office or other private area for evidence of illegal conduct. The warrant additionally allows the police to seize any evidence of illegal conduct that is found during execution of the warrant. Unless the police have consent to search or if a search falls into a legally recognized exception to the search warrant rule, the officer must have a search warrant before he or she can enter or search a person’s home, car or place of business.

A search warrant must be authorized and signed by a judge. Typically, an officer will go to a judge and present a search warrant to be signed. The warrant would include a sworn affidavit from the officer regarding the probable cause justifying the search. Probable cause is a legal standard that requires a showing that the officer has a reasonable belief that a crime has been committed and that evidence of that crime would be found during the search. In many cases, the officer’s affidavit will rely on information from a confidential informant. In these cases, the judge would require the officer to provide evidence regarding the reliability of the informant.

Search warrants are often used in drug cases and white collar offenses. The officer can request to search and seize items such as computers, bank records and office files. In many cases, a criminal suspect will first become aware that he or she is under investigation when officers show up at his or her door with a search warrant and various items are removed from the premises.

If the defendant is ultimately charged with a crime, there may be ways to challenge the warrant and suppress the evidence that was seized. The defense can file a motion to quash and traverse a warrant. A traversal motion challenges the truth of the information in the affidavit that was submitted to the signing judge. A motion to quash challenges the sufficiency of the evidence presented in the affidavit. There are different types of hearings that can be held when the defense challenges a search warrant. In a Franks hearing, the judge would determine whether or not the affidavit included false information. A Luttenberger hearing is held where the defense claims that the informant provided false information. And a Hobbs hearing will be held where the defense is requesting that the identity of a confidential informant be revealed.

There are certain rules pertaining to how a search warrant is executed. Under the law, a search warrant must be executed within 10 days of being issued. After 10 days have lapsed, the warrant becomes void. If the warrant becomes void, the judge can reissue the warrant if it is still supported by probable cause. Generally, a search warrant can only be executed between 7:00 AM and 10:00 PM. If the officer wants to execute the warrant outside of this timeframe, he or she would have to show good cause for the exception. In addition, there is a “knock-notice” rule which requires officers to knock or announce their presence before entering. There are exceptions and in certain circumstances an officer can enter a building or home without knocking.

If you have been charged with a crime or are under investigation and a search warrant has been served, it is crucial that you speak with a Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer right away. As a former Deputy District Attorney with over 14 years of prosecutorial experience, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Attorney Michael Kraut understands this complex area of the law and is highly skilled at litigating issues pertaining to search warrants.

For more information about Los Angeles search warrants, and to schedule your free consultation, contact Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer Michael Kraut at the Kraut Law Group located at 6255 Sunset Boulevard, Suite 1480, Los Angeles, CA 90028. Mr. Kraut can be reached 24/7 at 888-334-6344 or 323-464-6453.

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