When law enforcement agencies at all levels want to search someone’s home or office, they like the element of surprise. That means the people who live or work there often have no idea they’re going to show up and may not even realize that they’re under criminal investigation until law enforcement is at their door.
If officers show up and present you with a search warrant, you’re probably going to be too shocked to be able to read it clearly. Even when you read it, if you’re not an attorney, you may have no idea what it actually says.
What information has to be included in a search warrant?
Let’s look at a few key elements that need to be in every search warrant under New York state law. You don’t have to read and understand all of the language, but you should look for these things:
- The issuing judge and court
- A description of the location to be searched “by means of address, ownership, name or any other means essential to identification with certainty”
- A description of the property that can be seized
The specified hours in which the search can take place (like between 6:00 a.m. and 9:00 p.m.) or, in some cases, it may say that the warrant can be executed at any time.
As long as everything seems to be in order, don’t try to resist or hinder the officers. That’s a sure-fire way to find yourself in handcuffs. If you see that they’re at the wrong location, of course, inform them of that (in a respectful manner) and provide proof of the error (like the number on your apartment on your door, for example, if they’re in the wrong one).
As soon as you’re able, regardless of what happens with the search, it’s crucial to seek legal guidance. This is the most effective way to protect your rights and deal with the justice system.