Search warrant

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A search warrant is a written order issued by a judge that directs a law enforcement officer to search a specific area for a particular piece of evidence. It requires three things to be valid:

(1) signed by a judge or magistrate;
(2) based on a showing of probably cause to the judge or magistrate; and
(3) specifies a particular location and area or items within that location to be searched.

The term "warrant" is used loosely by government agents to include subpoenas and other administrative documents which are not valid search warrants.

See also