Warrants are the most common court orders, signed by a judge or magistrate, which authorize law enforcement officers to make an arrest or conduct a search. An application seeking a warrant must be accompanied by an affidavit which establishes probable cause by detailing the facts upon which the request is based. The three basic requirements for a search warrant are:
- signed by a judge or magistrate, stating his judicial office
- identify specifically the property to be searched, including the address and portion of the premises (usually not the entire premises)
- executed within the specific time authorized by the warrant
An "arrest warrant" is a warrant requiring the arrest, and typically formal booking with a mug shot, of the accused.
Warrantless searches of businesses
In some states, regulators have developed a habit of doing warrantless searches of businesses. A taxidermist blew the whistle on that unconstitutional practice by objecting in Ohio.