What can be searched during a search warrant?


Is a Warrant Required?  What can be searched during a search warrant?  Are there Differences in Types of Warrants?

  • Search Warrant is a type of Court Order
  • Authorizes Law Enforcement to Conduct a Search
  • Person, Location or Vehicle
  • Evidence of Crime
  • Confiscate Evidence
  • Seize Person


North Carolina Search Warrant Order

Click Image for Sample NC Search Warrant Form



Search Warrants should be narrowly tailored for the items or persons to be searched – Bill Powers 


Obtaining Evidence of a Crime in North Carolina

  • During a Seizure
  • Supported by Reasonable Suspicion / Probable Cause
  • Consent to Search
  • Reasonable Conduct by Law Enforcement



Before entering a person’s home or searching his or her car, personal property, or person, the police must obtain a warrant, based on probable cause to believe that the evidence being sought is in the place to be searched – Bill Powers


Transcript for Hearing Impaired


Modified Transcript of “What Can Be Searched During Search Warrant” for the Hearing Impaired

The scope of a search warrant is meant to be what we call narrowly tailored. 

What that means is, is that when a judicial official issues a search warrant, they’re authorizing law enforcement to come search for a particular item or evidence of a crime, and so they’re supposed to be narrowly tailored, meaning to just look at areas where you may expect to find evidence of that crime. 

For example, if there’s a search warrant for a person, say someone’s accused of kidnapping or harboring someone when they’re not supposed to, when they have a search warrant to go in a house to get that person that they think is in there, that doesn’t mean that necessarily they get to look through a sock drawer or a shoe box or something hidden in a closet because what they’re looking for is a person, not a particular effect.

Now, if they’re looking for drugs or evidence of some illegal substance, then they may indeed be able to search closets and shoe boxes and safes. 

If they’re looking for hidden funds, maybe they can look in locked items. 


The point of the matter is that when law enforcement goes to a magistrate, they’re supposed to set forth what the reasonable level of particularity, why they’re looking for something, where they think they may or may not find it, and then they’re allowed to execute the search warrant conditional upon those requirements. 

Now, if they find something else during the search that’s illegal, they don’t just ignore it. 

They’re supposed to gather up the evidence, and they’re allowed to gather up evidence of other offenses. 

It can be nuance, it can be complicated.  If they’re looking for a person and there is a drug paraphernalia on a table or open drugs, if they can see that in plain sight as part of the executed search warrant for a person, they can grab those items. 

Again, if you’re looking for a person and you start searching through envelopes or mail or things of that nature, that may or may not be appropriate. It’s complicated. Each case is a little bit different. 

Drug cases are different than cases involving people. Drug cases are different than robbery cases, kidnapping cases. There aren’t hard and fast rules. 

There are general protections afforded to all of us, protect all of us, and I encourage you to give us a ring. 

The telephone number is 704-342-4357. 

We offer a free initial consultation and its confidential. 

Talk to you soon. 

Bill Powers



2412 Arty Avenue

Charlotte, NC 28208


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