The police’s powers under a validly issued search warrant are limited by the terms of the search warrant itself. Thus, the particular address and particular parts of the property which are indicated in the search warrant that can be searched will be indicated. The police can only search those parts of the property indicated in the search warrant.
The police, in executing the search warrant, have the right to search your property thoroughly. The police can dig in your yard; they can remove wall panels, floor panels, doors, shelves or cabinets. They can search in attics, basements, closets and all other rooms of the house. They can search inside books, inside bags or boxes stored in the home.
What the police cannot do under the authority of a search warrant is that they cannot search your person. They cannot frisk you or pat your down. They cannot ask you to turn our your pockets or to remove your shoes and socks to search them.
They cannot turn on your computer and search your disk drive or search files on your computer unless they are specifically empowered to search your computers and your disk drives.
They cannot take your mobile phone to search for text messages, email messages or instant messages on your phone unless the search warrant authorizes them to conduct a search on your mobile phone.
The power of the police to search your person is different when the police randomly stop you while you are on the road at a sobriety checkpoint. Even without a search warrant, the police can pat you down if they have a reasonable suspicion that you may have weapons hidden in your clothes, or that you may have prohibited or regulated drugs hidden on your person.
The police can shine a light into your car in order to do a visual search of your car while they are standing by an open or closed window of the car. Their visual search can only be for bottles of liquor or alcohol or for weapons or prohibited drugs. The police cannot enter your vehicle and they cannot seize whatever items they see in the car.
They can lock and impound the car in the meantime that they secure a search warrant that will give them the authority to search inside the car and seize items from it that can be used as evidence.
Know your rights and know the extent of the authority of the police to search your property. Call a lawyer.
Disclaimer : This article is just a summary of the subject matter being discussed and should not be regarded as a comprehensive legal advice for you to defend yourself alone. If you are charged with criminal offences, it is recommended that you seek legal assistance from criminal lawyers.