A search warrant is a court order that authorizes law enforcement to search a specific location for evidence of a crime. To obtain a search warrant in Georgia, law enforcement must demonstrate to a judge that there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime will be found at the location to be searched.
Probable cause is a legal standard that requires more than mere suspicion but less than certainty that a crime has been committed. To determine whether probable cause exists, courts consider the totality of the circumstances, including the nature of the crime, the location of the search, and any information provided by informants or law enforcement officers.
If a judge finds that probable cause exists, they will issue a search warrant that authorizes law enforcement to search the specified location for evidence of the crime. The warrant will also specify the types of evidence that can be seized.
Once the search warrant is executed, law enforcement will typically search the premises and seize any evidence that is found. The evidence will then be turned over to the prosecutor’s office, which will use it to build a case against the suspect.
When is Warrantless Search and Seizure Legal?
There are some circumstances where law enforcement can search and seize evidence without a warrant. These circumstances are known as “exceptions” to the warrant requirement.
The most common exception is the “plain view” doctrine, which allows law enforcement to seize evidence that is in “plain view.” This typically occurs when an officer is conducting a legal search (with or without a warrant) and comes across evidence of a crime. For example, if an officer is searching a suspect’s house for drugs and finds a gun in plain view, they can seize the gun as evidence.
Another common exception is the “consent” exception, which allows law enforcement to search a person or property if the owner gives their consent. For example, if a suspect consents to a search of their house, law enforcement can conduct the search without a warrant.
There are also several exceptions that apply to specific types of searches, such as searches of vehicles, searches at airports, and searches of people who are under arrest.
What to Do if You’re the Subject of a Search Warrant
If you are the subject of a search warrant, it is important that you do not resist the search. If you do, you could be charged with a crime.
Instead, you should ask to see the search warrant and ensure it is valid. Once the search is completed, you should ask for a copy of the inventory of items that were seized.
You should also contact a criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review the search warrant and the evidence that was seized to determine if the search was legal. If it was not, your attorney can file a motion to suppress the evidence, which could result in the charges against you being dropped.
Summing it Up
There are a few different grounds for which a search warrant may be issued in the state of Georgia. These grounds include if there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed, if there is probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is present in a particular location, or if there is probable cause to believe that a particular individual is engaged in criminal activity. In order to obtain a search warrant, a law enforcement officer must provide a sworn affidavit to a judge or magistrate that outlines the grounds for the warrant.
Speak with a Criminal Defense Attorney Today!
If you have been charged with a crime, it is important to speak with an experienced criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can review your case and help you determine if the evidence against you was obtained illegally. They can also help you fight the charges and protect your rights.
If you’re looking for the best criminal lawyer in Georgia, look no further than Hanks, Ballard & Barth! We are dedicated to providing clients in Walton County and Morgan County, as well as surrounding counties, with comprehensive legal services. We have over sixty (60) years of combined legal and law enforcement experience. Contact us for more information today!