If Illinois law enforcement officials have permission to search your home, vehicle or business, getting a search warrant can be an intimidating experience. Even though it might feel invasive, remember that they are following procedures set forth by the legal system.
You need to understand your rights and responsibilities during this process and there are some important steps you can take if the Illinois police serve you with a search warrant.
Understanding the search warrant
A search warrant is a court-ordered document that allows law enforcement to search a specific location and seize certain items. Before issuing the warrant, law enforcement must convince a judge that probable cause exists linking the place and items described in the warrant to a crime.
When served with a search warrant, request to read the warrant. Ensure it specifies your address, describes the areas law enforcement can search and lists the evidence they are seeking.
Complying with law enforcement
Even though the situation might be unsettling, stay calm and do not obstruct the police officers during the search. Interfering with a legal search can result in more charges.
You have the right to observe the search but avoid getting in the way of the officers. Limit your conversation with the police, as they can use anything you say against you.
Protecting your rights during the search
Even though a search warrant gives the police broad authority to look for evidence, your rights are not entirely suspended. Law enforcement officials are not allowed to damage your property unnecessarily. Also, they must restrict the search to the areas and items outlined in the warrant.
If you believe the police are exceeding the scope of the warrant or causing unnecessary damage, express your concerns calmly and clearly. If possible, document the officers’ actions for future reference.