Search Warrant

The Fourth Amendment to the United States Constitution protects citizens from overreach by government officials. This amendment requires government employees, such as police officers, to obtain a search warrant before searching or seizing a person’s property. Law enforcement officials don’t always play by the rules, though.

If you’ve been targeted by a search warrant, you are likely a suspect in a criminal investigation. Don’t try to present your own defense against criminal charges. Don’t provide information to the police. You need a qualified criminal defense attorney familiar with Florida’s laws and courts. 

Defense Attorney for Search Warrant in Palm Beach County

Meltzer & Bell, P.A. is well-versed in search warrants. We know what the police must do to get a warrant. We also know how to get your charges dropped if proper procedure was not followed. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. offers a free initial consultation.

Call (561) 557-8686 or complete our online form. One of our accomplished attorneys will speak with you about your case and offer advice. We represent West Palm Beach clients and others in Palm Beach County communities such as Boca Raton, Palm Beach Gardens, Greenacres, and Lake Worth.


Overview of Search Warrant in West Palm Beach, Florida


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Elements of a Valid Search Warrant in West Palm Beach

Our Constitution guarantees a reasonable expectation of privacy for American citizens. Police may not violate your privacy unless they suspect you have committed a crime, are currently committing a crime, or are going to commit a crime. In most cases, the police must obtain a warrant from a judge to perform a search.

A warrant is not valid unless it was filed by a police officer acting in good faith. The warrant must use reliable information to demonstrate sufficient probable cause to conduct a search. The magistrate issuing the warrant must be detached and neutral to avoid conflicts of interest. And, perhaps most importantly, the warrant must specify in detail where the police want to search and what they are searching for. 


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What Constitutes Probable Cause in Palm Beach County?

Probable cause is the reasonable basis for suspicion that a person has committed a crime. It cannot be based on a mere hunch or guess by the officer. Before conducting a search, arresting someone, or seizing property, police must establish probable cause.

Probable cause exists to protect citizens from abuse of power by government and law enforcement officials. Without the probable cause requirement, police could legally arrest, search, and confiscate property from anyone without justification.

To make an arrest, an officer must have a reasonable basis to suspect that a crime has been committed. When submitting an affidavit to obtain a search warrant from a magistrate, an officer must explain what criminal evidence they expect to find at a specified location.


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There are some instances where a search warrant is not needed to execute a search. Police may conduct a warrantless search in any of the following situations:

  • When an officer sees evidence and contraband in plain view;
  • If a person gives the police express consent to conduct a search;
  • After lawfully placing a person under arrest;
  • Suspicion a fleeing criminal has entered the premises during a chase;
  • If police have reason to believe evidence may be destroyed by the time they obtain a search warrant; and
  • If police reasonably suspect a vehicle contains illegal contraband. 

If you’ve been searched, you need to speak to a criminal defense attorney. It’s important to determine whether law enforcement officials executed the search properly. It may be possible to get your charges dismissed.


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Unreasonable Searches and Seizures in West Palm Beach

Law enforcement officials do not have an inherent right to freely search you or your property. If a cop searches you or takes your property without probable cause or a valid search warrant, they are committing unreasonable search and seizure. This isn’t just illegal; it’s a violation of one of your fundamental Constitutional rights.

Any evidence obtained during an illegal search is subject to what’s called the “exclusionary rule.” This means that the evidence can’t be used against you and must be thrown out. An experienced criminal defense attorney can review the circumstances of your arrest to identify any procedural errors committed by the police while executing a search.


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Additional Resources

The State of Our Trash in Florida | Florida Bar Journal – This article published by the Florida Bar discusses the legality of using evidence discarded in a trash can to obtain a search warrant. Law enforcement officials will often search suspects’ trash cans to develop reasonable suspicion to get a warrant. Visit this page to read about who owns trash when it is placed out for pickup and the limits to what the police can do with your garbage.

Know Your Rights When Encountering Law Enforcement | ACLU – The American Civil Liberties Union is a nonprofit organization devoted to protecting the basic Constitutional rights of American citizens. This short guide published by the ACLU contains a list of common questions regarding when an officer may search you or your property. Visit this page to learn how to handle an officer who shows up at your residence asking to search it. 

What is probable cause? | Flex Your Rights – The Flex Your Rights nonprofit organization aims to educate citizens of their rights during encounters with law enforcement. This website offers an informative summary of probable cause. Here you can also learn about how to respond to an officer’s request to conduct a search of your vehicle during a traffic stop.


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Defense Lawyer for Search Warrant in West Palm Beach

If you’ve been searched, you’re under investigation. If you haven’t been charged yet, criminal charges could soon follow. Don’t wait until it’s too late to properly defend yourself. Contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. offers a free consultation. 

Call (561) 557-8686 or complete our online form. You can reach one of our representatives 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. We’ll review your case and recommend what steps to take to ensure the best possible defense. Meltzer & Bell, P.A. represents Palm Beach County clients in West Palm Beach, Lake Park, Delray Beach, and other communities across South Florida.


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