A search warrant is legal document that authorizes police officers to do a thorough exploration of a place in search of evidence relevant to an ongoing court case. Any possible evidence is then seized and held by the police for use in their ensuing investigation. By law, a police officer needs a search warrant to enter a private residence or office. However, this may be waived in cases of a hot pursuit, when there is apparent danger to the police officer or civilians nearby, when a felon’s escape must be prevented, or when evidence is being destroyed.
In such cases, police officers are well within their rights to exercise the law, sans a search warrant. Only judges and magistrates can issue a search warrant. However, an officer must convince the court that the search warrant is indeed warranted. Based on direct or hearsay information, the police must justify the need for a search warrant; that there is probable cause to enter a civilian’s home or office because of the presence of evidence material to the case. If the subject or owner of the house agrees to a police search, then the search warrant is no longer required.
Under a search warrant, both objects and individuals can be seized for later investigation. Arrest warrants are legal orders to arrest individuals and hold them in detention, until such time that bail is allowed and posted. Issuing arrest warrants are not the exclusive domain of the courts; in fact political agencies such as the House of Congress can issue an arrest order. An arrest warrant is issued because the person to be arrested is suspected of having committed a certain crime.
Once the suspect has been arrested and detained, a court case will be then filed to prove whether the suspect is guilty of the crime or not. In execution of an arrest, the person to be arrested must be personally served with the legal documents pertaining to the arrest order, if not; the subject may dispute the arrest as unconstitutional. For felonies and misdemeanors, an arrest warrant is not required if the police is there when the felony took place, or if the suspect turns in voluntarily to the police.