Despite popular belief, a police officer cannot just request a search warrant and have the department issue one to him or her that same day. Rather, for an officer or any law enforcement agent to obtain a warrant in Missouri, he or she must have a valid reason for doing so and, moreover, follow proper protocol. The judge who issues the warrant must also adhere to certain etiquette, otherwise he or she runs the risk of a higher authority declaring the search warrant invalid.
According to Search & Seizure Law in Missouri State and Federal Law by the Office of Circuit Attorney in the City of St. Louis, a valid search warrant must be in writing and directed to any peace officer of the state. It must also identify the article, substance, material, property or person for which or whom the officer is allowed to search and, if found, seize. The description of the property or person must be in such thorough detail that the officer or officers executing the search warrant can readily ascertain that that which they seek is what they have found. The warrant must also state the time and date the judge issued the warrant.
The warrant must clarify that if the peace officers locate the item or person of interest, they have a responsibility to photograph or copy the items or person and to file the photographs or copies with the court within 10 days after filing the application for the warrant. The judge must sign the warrant, along with his or her title of office.
A higher authority may declare a search warrant invalid if a judge did not issue it or if a judge issued it without having received a written and verified application. A search warrant may also be invalid if a judge issued it without receiving notice of probable cause or if he or she issued it outside of his or her jurisdiction. If the warrant does not describe, in detail, the person, thing or place for which the officer is to search, or the article, substance, material or property which the officer is to seize, the warrant may be invalid. Furthermore, if the judge who issued the warrant does not sign it, a higher authority may consider it void. Finally, for a warrant to be lawful, the peace officers who obtained it must act upon it within the allotted time frame which, in Missouri, is 10 days.
This article is for educational purposes only. It should not be used as legal advice.