How to Know if a Search Warrant Is Real

By Nicholas Smith
Evidence obtained upon a faulty or fake search warrant can likely be suppressed in court.

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American citizens and residents are protected by the United States Constitution. One of the rights included in the constitution is the prohibition against unlawful searches and seizures by law enforcement officials. The prohibition is contained in the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution, as part of the "Bill of Rights." The prohibition requires law enforcement officials to obtain a search warrant to search you or your property, unless an "exigency" or "emergency" exists that requires an immediate search. For example, a search warrant is not needed to prevent physical harm. You can verify the authenticity of a warrant in a few ways.

Look for a seal from the local, state or federal government or a law enforcement office. For example, if it is a federal warrant from the U.S. Department of Justice, the official department seal will be stamped on the warrant.

Check the warrant for elements common to search warrants. Although the rules may differ slightly by state, generally, search warrants contain the date and time of issuance, specific identify of the property to be seized, and the name or a specific description of the person or place to be searched. Additionally, the warrant will contain the time or event required for the warrant to be executed, the title of the office issuing the warrant, and a listing of the probable cause required to obtain the warrant.

Call the court where the issuing official is stationed (see Resources). Tell the court officer that you want to verify the authenticity of a search warrant being served to you.

About the Author

Nicholas Smith has written political articles for SmithonPolitics.com, "The Daily Californian" and other publications since 2004. He is a former commissioner with the city of Berkeley, Calif. He holds a Bachelor of Arts in political science from the University of California-Berkeley and a Juris Doctor from St. John's University School of Law.

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