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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:

  1. signed by a judge or magistrate, stating his judicial office
  2. identify specifically the property to be searched, including the address and portion of the premises (usually not the entire premises)
  3. 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.[1]

See also