If the police have a warrant to search your house for a specific item, what if they find something else for which they can charge you?

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If the police have a warrant to search your house for a specific item, what if they find something else for which they can charge you?

The police came to my boyfriend’s house with a warrant to search for stolen car parts only. During the search they found a shot gun in a closet that they had to take every thing out of and found shells in a another room in a dresser. These items were not listed in the warrant. Is it legal to use these things against him in court as he is now charged as a felon in possession of a fire arm?

Asked on May 10, 2011 under Criminal Law, Missouri

Answers:

MD, Member, California Bar / FreeAdvice Contributing Attorney

Answered 10 years ago | Contributor

Yes, when the police have a warrant to search the premises for item A (here car parts), they can search anywhere on the premises that could contain car parts, including in a closet. If the police find a fire arm and then search more and find shells and he is a felon, they can indeed seize those materials, probably get a warrant to search other areas (other homes, his car, and the like), and find more materials. If he is a felon, he is not to be in possession of a firearm or ammunition. Further, if the police enter the premises to locate car parts and they find items in open view (say drugs, stolen items, weapons) without looking in closets, they can seize those items, as well. He needs to consider immediately seeking counsel to review the warrant and see if there are any loopholes.


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