Do police have to leave a copy of the search warrant at my home?

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Do police have to leave a copy of the search warrant at my home?

My home was invaded by local law officers and I was never left a copy of the search warrant at my house or otherwise given a copy. I was booked into jail on charges that were not true and a search warrant was not in my possession at the time. I later got a copy from the courthouse. The warrant says nothing about safes or lock boxes of any sort, yet they tore the door off of my safe after ripping it out of the wall. My gun safe was also pried open. They say they found drugs in an open safe yet there were no drugs and it wasn’t open obviously by the amount of damage that was done to it.

Asked on March 12, 2011 under Criminal Law, Washington

Answers:

M.D., Member, California and New York Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

As a general rule, there is no legal requirement that the police show a copy of a search warrant.  The fact is that many times such warrants are obtained over the phone from an "on-call" judge.  As a result the actual warrant itself  may not be immediately available.  While the police may show the face page of a warrant to avoid any confrontations or to convince a person that there is a warrant, it's not typically a legal requirement.  However, the law regarding this varies from state-to-state. 

As for the extent of an allowable search, this issue can get complex - was the warrant valid in the first place; was the execution valid; etc?  In your situation the police may well have exceeded the scope of the warrant. The best thing for you to do here is to consult directly with a criminal law attorney in your area. 


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