Missouri residents and others are protected from illegal searches and seizures by the Fourth Amendment to the Constitution. Generally speaking, authorities cannot legally search or seize property without obtaining a warrant. If evidence is obtained illegally, it may be ruled inadmissible at trial. To obtain a warrant, a police officer must issue a sworn statement to a neutral judge outlining why he or she has probable cause to believe that an individual is engaged in illegal behavior.

This statement must attest to the fact that any information contained in the warrant is not intentionally false or misleading in any way. In some cases, probable cause can be established through statements that are made by police informants or other outside parties. A warrant may be issued based on the information provided by those individuals even if the information can’t be verified before doing so.

The warrant itself must specify where an officer wants to look for evidence of a crime or for information that could prevent a crime from occurring. If an officer wanted to search a person’s house, he or she would need to list the address where the home is located. Authorities may need to be more specific when applying for a warrant to search an apartment, hotel room or particular part of a home.

A person who is charged with theft, drug possession or other crimes may face significant penalties if convicted. Hiring a criminal law attorney might make it possible to avoid some or all of those penalties. An attorney may be able to get evidence suppressed by claiming that it was obtained illegally. Legal counsel may assert that an officer should have gotten a search warrant before searching a home or car or that there were problems with the search warrant itself.