How to Perform a Search Warrant the Easy Way
The scandal involving the Dallas Police Department taught us that law enforcement may use search warrants inappropriately. If the name Botham Jean doesn't ring a bell, he was a 26-year-old accountant living in Dallas Texas who was shot by off-duty police officer Amber Guyger after she supposedly mistook his apartment for her own. Guyger claimed that she thought Jean was a burglar and, fearing for her life, claimed she was acting in self-defense. An attorney working for Jean's family, Lee Merritt, accused the police department of using the search warrant to find dirt on him. The search warrant was made public, revealing that police found 10.4 grams of marijuana and a metal marijuana grinder. Merritt told the media that the police only used the warrant to find "information that could help assassinate his character."
To learn more about this case, DoNotPay can assist you in requesting information with our Freedom of Information Act product.
What Is the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA)?
The FOIA (5 U.S.C. § 552) dictates that information and documents previously unreleased by local, state, and federal governments must be fully or partially disclosed if asked to do so. The FOIA defines the following:
- What agency records are subject to disclosure
- Outlines the procedures involved in disclosure procedures
- It stipulates nine exemptions to the statute
In addition to that, agencies can withhold information under § 552 (8)(A) if the following applies:
- "The agency reasonably foresees that disclosure would harm an interest protected by an exemption described in subsection."
- The disclosure of certain information is prohibited by law.
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The FOIA intends to make governmental functions more transparent, allowing the public to identify problems in the system more easily. As a result, Americans can pressure agencies, Congress, and the White House to fix those problems. Individual states have various versions of freedom of information laws. Some states release more information than others. While media organizations make up approximately 10% of all FOIA requests, individuals, law firms, and businesses comprise most of the requests.
What Makes a Search Warrant Valid or Invalid?
Americans are protected from unlawful searches and seizures by The Fourth Amendment of the US Constitution. This means that law enforcement agencies can't search private property or take a person's property without probable cause. For example, if someone merely tells the police that their neighbor is selling narcotics, this doesn't provide law enforcement with probable cause. But if undercover police purchase narcotics from the neighbor's house, that provides probable cause.
The Dallas Police Department likely had probable cause to conduct the because of the shooting death. However, it became a matter of contention when the police confiscated marijuana and used it to make Jean look bad. After all, former officer Guyger was the one who entered Jean's apartment illegally, subsequently killing him. The search warrant should've only covered evidence about Guyger's crimes.
Does Law Enforcement Need a Search Warrant if You Have an Outstanding Arrest Warrant?
When the court or district attorney issues an arrest warrant on an individual (whether misdemeanor or felony), police officers have the authority to take the suspect into custody wherever they are located. This includes their property, someone else's property, and a place of business. Law enforcement's ability to search the arrestee's property is limited based on the circumstances surrounding the arrest. However, if law enforcement discovers drug paraphernalia, illegal weapons, or illicit activity, they may request an additional search warrant covering those things.
If you're arrested while driving a vehicle, law enforcement will have it towed unless someone you know can come and drive it from the scene (but only if it's legal). In most cases, officers conduct "peripheral" searches before the vehicle is towed. As long as they don't rummage through the console, glove compartment, or other closed items, they're typically in the right.
Here's How You Can Use DoNotPay to Check for Warrants
DoNotPay offers a Warrant Lookup product for those who need to know if they have a warrant right away or wish to do so anonymously. Our automated service scans through millions of online public records to see if you or a loved one has an outstanding warrant. Here's how you can use DoNotPay to check for warrants:
- Go to the Check for Warrants product on DoNotPay.
- Choose whether you want to search for yourself or someone else, and answer a few questions to help us narrow down the search results, including current and previous addresses, age, the names of parents/relatives, and any known aliases.
- Select how you would like to receive the results in the case where we have to contact the police station on your behalf (by mail or email).
- Enter your contact information, including email, address, and phone number.
DoNotPay also offers the following products:
- Learn about warrant searches
- Learn if someone has a warrant online for free
- Florida Department of Law Enforcement Warrant Search
- Texas warrant search
- Utah warrant search
- Sedgwick County warrant search
- Oklahoma warrant search
- Las Vegas warrant search
- Colorado warrant search
- How to find out if you have a bench warrant
- Harris County warrant search
Other Legal Issues That DoNotPay Can Help You With
DoNotPay got into the business of helping people in London and New York overturn their parking tickets. Over the years, we started incorporating other services, such as:
- Create a Power of Attorney
- Fight Workplace Discrimination
- Dispute Seatbelt Tickets
- File Police Report
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- Fishing Licenses
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- Notarize Documents
Of course, legal issues aren't all we handle. DoNotPay's automated system also helps users resolve all sorts of financial things. To learn more about what we offer, visit our Most Popular Features, Most Recent Posts, and Protect Your Business From Lawsuits pages.