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What Is a Drug Warrant?

In the US, the Fourth Amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, guards against unreasonable searches and seizures.
A drug warrant can be used to search for illegal drugs, such as heroin.
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  • Written By: Alexis W.
  • Edited By: Heather Bailey
  • Images By: Tex Hex, Richard Villalon
  • Last Modified Date: 27 September 2014
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A drug warrant refers to a legal document permitting the police or law enforcement agencies to search a premises and to seize any illegal drugs identified. Generally, when a drug warrant is issued, the judge signs off on the search and permits the police to conduct it due to suspicions related to possession of illegal narcotics. To obtain the warrant, the police or prosecuting officials must have probable cause.

Within the United States and most other countries, including Canada and the United Kingdom, certain drugs are illegal to possess or sell. This body of illegal drugs includes cocaine, heroin, methamphetamine, and numerous other substances that have the potential to be addictive and mind altering. The penalty for possessing these controlled substances often includes jail time, especially if the individual found in possession has a sufficiently large amount that it was clear he intended to sell the substance.

To prove a drug possession case, the police and law enforcement officials generally need to have evidence of the possession of drugs by the accused individual. If a police official sees a person engaged in the action of doing drugs or selling drugs, this can provide him with the justification to search that individual's person to attempt to find the illegal substances. If, however, a person isn't caught in the act of illegal activity or if the police want to search someone's home or car, they may need to obtain a drug warrant.

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In the United States, the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution makes such a warrant imperative. The Fourth Amendment protects against unreasonable search and seizure. It reads: "The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated, and no Warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized."

This means that to obtain a drug warrant to search a person's home, probable cause must be given. Within the United States, a judge must review the potential evidence and listen to the reasons why law enforcement believes a given individual is in possession of drugs. If the judge is convinced there is a sufficient reason to believe there are illegal drugs at a given location, the the judge may issue a drug warrant permitting the police to search that area. If drugs are found, they can be seized.

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