How to Fill Out a Search Warrant

By Marcello Viridis
A search warrant, an order, a judge

gavel image by Cora Reed from Fotolia.com

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.

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.

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."

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."

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."

About the Author

Marcello Viridis has been "working in writing" for the past six years. Since publishing his first article in 2004, he has written on a range topics from working and living overseas for the Wall Street Journal's Black Collegian website to legal essays for the Encyclopedia of American Civil Liberties. Viridis has a B.A. from Pomona College and a J.D. from Lewis and Clark Law School.

Cite this Article A tool to create a citation to reference this article Cite this Article