In many cases, you may not know that law enforcement has been working on a criminal investigation against you until they show up with a search warrant. This means your home or place of business—and the people living or working there—could be subject to a stressful, unexpected situation.
The rules and procedures for executing a search warrant in Utah are outlined in what is called “Rule 40.” Below are a few questions that help summarize the information in the rule. You can also read the full text of Rule 40 here.
According to Rule 40, the definition of a search warrant in Utah is an order issued by a magistrate in the name of the state and directed to a peace officer. This order must describe with particularity the thing, place, or person to be searched and the property or evidence to be seized.
Additionally, a warrant is required to be served in a readable form, meaning the original written or recorded warrant or a copy.
A search warrant is only issued if there is probable cause and it’s supported by oath or affirmation. A law enforcement officer must complete an affidavit and the details must describe the person or place to be searched and the person, property, or evidence to be seized.
If there is property that is evidence of illegal conduct but there isn’t probable cause that the person who has it is part of the illegal conduct, a search warrant is only issued if the magistrate finds that the evidence can’t be obtained by subpoena or would be destroyed if subpoenaed. For these cases, the magistrate will include following conditions with the search warrant:
In addition, for violations of laws in relation to health, safety, building, or animal cruelty, a magistrate can issue a warrant for the purpose of obtaining evidence of a violation (if there is probable cause).
If the following is true, your property can be seized by law enforcement during a search warranty.
Probable cause to believe your property
Officers have 10 days to serve a search warrant after it is obtained. Generally, the magistrate will specify that a warrant can only be served in the daytime. Daytime is considered 6 a.m. to 10 p.m., which means you could still be searched at an inconvenient time when you are still asleep or going to bed.
If the magistrate determines that the property to be searched is at risk of being concealed, destroyed, or damaged, they may issue a search warrant that allows for a search at any time, day or night.
If a peace officer seizes your property during a search, they are required to give you a receipt detailing what was taken. If you are not home at the time, they still have to leave a receipt at the location. After property is seized, there are laws that require the officer to provide proper safekeeping and maintenance until otherwise directed by the court. You can read more about how to get seized property returned on our blog.
If you have been served with a search warrant and had your property seized, the expert legal team at Brown, Bradshaw & Moffat is ready to put our experience to work for you. We know the laws, and if law enforcement violated any of your rights in the process of a search warrant, we can help you fight back.
Give us a call at (801) 532-5297 so we can start working on your case today.
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