Search Warrants in Arizona

officer with their back turned - search warrants in Arizona

Search Warrants in Arizona

A warrant to search someone’s property is common to hear about, especially in the news and on television shows. You might be left with questions about the legality of it, and understanding if it infringes on your Constitutional right to privacy. Keep reading to learn more about search warrants in Arizona and what to do if you’re served with a search warrant for your person, residence, or property.

What Is a Search Warrant? 

Warrants are legal documents issued by the government that allow law enforcement the power to carry out specific actions related to the pursuit of justice. There are three types of warrants in Arizona: bench warrants, arrest warrants, and search warrants. A search warrant is what gives law enforcement the legal right to search your property. 

Your property can include your:

  • Place of residence
  • Person (pockets, clothing, etc.)
  • Phone
  • Computer
  • Tablet
  • Car
  • Land
  • Office space
  • Rented spaces

Are All Search Warrants the Same? 

No, not all search warrants are the same. A search warrant includes very specific information and does not give law enforcement free rein. For example, a search warrant that is granted for your residence does not include the right to search your car. 

Search warrants must list the address you are at or the specific vehicle that will be searched. If this information is incorrect, you do not need to permit the search. A search warrant must also list the evidence that they are looking for and planning to confiscate. Any extra items are not included, and are not admissible as evidence. 

What to Do If You Are Served a Search Warrant

For Searches of Your Home, Vehicle, Land, Office, or Rented Space:

  • Ask the officers if they have a warrant. If they say no, you do not need to let them in your home or give them access to personal property (like a vehicle). 
  • If they have a warrant, ask for a copy of the warrant right away and call your lawyer.
  • Double and triple-check that all the information on the warrant is correct. If the address or vehicle information on the warrant is incorrect (or even misspelled), inform an officer right away and state clearly you are not giving them permission to enter or search. 
  • It is required for the warrant to state clearly the items that are being searched for and taken into evidence. Stay vigilant, and inform your lawyer if anything else is taken. 
  • Remain silent—only speak with your attorney present. 

For Searches of Your Electronics:

  • If an officer asks you to unlock your phone, computer, or tablet, decline and ask to see a warrant. If they do not have one, you have the right to refuse. 
  • Call your lawyer and review whether the information on the warrant is accurate. If any information is incorrect, inform the law enforcement officer right away. 
  • An officer may take your locked electronics into custody as evidence. Before giving any information over to law enforcement, contact your lawyer.

You do have the legal right to refuse if you are asked for additional permission to search your person, residence, or property. If it is not on the warrant they must ask. If you agree to a search, you are giving up your right to privacy. If you plan to record the search, be advised that there are new laws about recording police officers, so be sure you keep your distance and do not get in the way. 

Don’t I Have a Reasonable Expectation of Privacy?

Your Fourth Amendment rights give you protection against unreasonable searches. However, this does not protect you from all unwarranted searches. 

  • If there is something suspicious in “plain view” that an officer can see without trespassing, then that can be cause for an unwarranted search and seizure. 
  • If you get arrested, your person can be searched. 
  • An officer may search a vehicle if there is probable cause that there are illegal items inside.
  • Any impound items, like bags and cars, may be legally searched at the discretion of law enforcement.

If You’ve Been Served a Search Warrant, You Need a Lawyer

When you need a lawyer, you need the best. Todd Coolidge is a Certified Criminal Law Specialist who handles challenging cases throughout Maricopa County and the Phoenix area. With a stellar track record and over 25 years of experience in the Arizona courts, there is no one better. Contact us today for a consultation on your case.




Images used under creative commons license – commercial use (3/27/24). Photo by Rosemary Ketchum