How to Fill Out a Search Warrant

A search warrant, an order, a judge
••• gavel image by Cora Reed from

For a search warrant to be valid, it must be based on probable cause to believe that evidence relevant to the investigation of a crime will be found at the location stated in the warrant. Probable cause, according to the American Bar Association, is established by a showing of facts that support a reasonable probability that the location will reveal evidence.

Step 1

Summarize the facts of the crime. Include the crime charged, a description of the defendant and any witnesses who were present. Be specific. If possible, attach a copy of the police report or preliminary investigation report.

Step 2

Name the person, place or object to be searched. Be as specific as possible. For example: "The item to be searched is the dorm room of Mr. John Doe."

Step 3

Describe the location of the person, place or object to be searched. Include a complete address if available. Be as specific and descriptive as possible. Search warrants limit your search to the stated location. Make sure you accurately describe the location. For example: "The records to be searched are located at State University, Standard Hall, Room 1, 22 College Way, University City, Anystate 19191."

Step 4

Describe the facts that establish a fair probability that a search of the stated person, place or object will produce evidence of a crime or information relevant to your investigation. For example: "As stated in the attached police report, the crime of the theft occurred on January 1, 2009. John Doe is the primary suspect. Based on a conversation with the victim as well as campus security, it is reasonable to believe that a search of his dorm room will reveal information relevant to the investigation as well as produce evidence linking him to the crime."

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