Serving a Warrant Needs to be Done Properly

Depending on state law, detectives may have to inform the judge whether they expect to serve the warrant they are asking for during daylight hours or at night.

If at night, the detective generally must explain the necessity of serving the warrant then. Unless a detective can convince a judge that night service has to happen to prevent destruction of evidence, to prevent another crime from happening, or some other urgent reason, the search warrant will normally state its authorization applies only for daytime execution.

Night searches, unless needed to prevent the probable destruction of evidence, can lead to accusations of harassment, embarrassment and unreasonable use of police powers, especially when no evidence is found during the search.

Sometimes it is necessary to execute a search warrant suddenly, without detectives or officers announcing their authority (no knock) or the use of forcible entry. The courts allow such action only when the detective shows that forced entry is necessary to avoid endangering law enforcement officers or when there is good reason to expect an attempt to destroy evidence before officers can seize it, for example flushing away drugs.

When judges issue or sign search warrants, they always set a limit on how many days the warrant remains valid. After that time, the warrant has no authority, and if used to seize evidence, can results in an illegal seizure, which is useless for prosecution and may subject the detective to disciplinary action such as suspension, termination of employment and criminal charges.

The victim of an illegal search can also bring a civil lawsuit against the officers and the police department with a chance of winning damages.

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