Do the police have to show the search warrant? What about reading my rights?

Search Warrants and Miranda Rights

After the police serve a search warrant, the questions that frequently come up are:  “Were they required to show me the warrant?”  and “I was never read my rights while they searched my house – weren’t they supposed to?”

There is no legal requirement that the search warrant be shown during the search.  The only thing they’re required to do is leave a receipt for any property taken during the search.  Most officers will produce a copy of the face page of the warrant that shows the location and/or person to be searched along with the judge’s signature, but it’s not required that they do that.  If they do, it’s to avoid an argument with the occupants whether or not a warrant exists so they can keep things moving.

The Miranda rights is a different issue.  They must advise a person of their rights when they’re “in custody” (either formally arrested or the equivalent of it) and being questioned.  During a search warrant, the occupants are typically “detained” (less than an arrest), so are not subject to the Miranda requirement.  If the detention continues for a prolonged period, it may be seen as an arrest, making any statements potentially subject to suppression.

Finally – even if a person was “in custody,” unless they were being interrogated (questions designed to elicit an incriminating response), they don’t have to have their rights read to them.  Only if both custody AND questioning exist at the same time are the rights read.  If they were in custody, but not being questioned, the rights not being read isn’t a huge issue that will result in a case being dismissed.  (More about Miranda rights)

But aside from that… search warrants have their own procedure that must be followed – from the evidence required to get one, the procedure to obtain one and the procedure to serve it.  There can be several legal challenges to a search warrant.  Each case is specific, so the details will need to be discussed with your attorney.

Joe Dane

Orange County Defense Attorney

(714) 532-3600