In the United States, you have a host of legal rights and protections that are enshrined in the constitution. Some notable examples are your rights to privacy and protection from unlawful searches and seizures, which are set out in the Fourth Amendment.
One of the most protected areas is your home residence. Nobody, including law enforcement, is entitled to interfere unnecessarily with your privacy at home.
There are, however, some exceptions. If the police turn up at your door with a valid search warrant, then they may be entitled to enter without your permission. The key emphasis here is on the word valid. What should a valid search warrant contain?
The specific property
If the police intend to search your home and potentially seize items, then it must be your home address that is named in the warrant. Having a warrant to your neighbor’s house, your business address or any other domicile does not give officers the required authority to enter and search your home.
Dates and times
The warrant should also be accurate in terms of dates and times. It has to be signed and dated by a judge. It should also list the specified time frame to which your property can be searched. For instance, if the warrant expired one week ago, it would no longer be valid to enter your premises in the present.
A list of goods to be seized
Typically, a warrant must give you some indication of the property that officers are there to seize. For example, if they intend to seize your computer and other electrical equipment then the warrant should say so. The court may suppress evidence that was obtained without first being itemized on the warrant.
For the most part, law enforcement officers need a warrant to enter your home, although there are some exceptions. If you give consent, then officers may be entitled to enter. The same can also be said if they have probable cause to believe that a criminal offense is in commission within the property. If you are facing criminal charges based on the findings of a search, be sure to seek some legal guidance.