Under the U.S. Constitution, all Americans are protected from unreasonable search and seizure of their property by law enforcement. The State of California has established general rules upon which search warrant documents and supporting affidavits for warrants are to be written and obtained.
The Search Warrant Affidavit in Tulare Superior Courts
Prior to a warrant being issued, the Visalia PD are required to prepare a written search warrant affidavit and swear to the facts contained therein. This affidavit must meet certain requirements by law and must give sufficient facts to justify entry into your home, business or automobile. This requirement is referred to as establishing probable cause. Law enforcement agents cannot just go look through your property simply because they want to. They must establish a link between the property they want to search and the commission of a crime.
This information which the Visalia Police Dep relies upon to establish probable cause cannot be based solely on stale facts. They can include old information, but a warrant for a valid search must state recent or new facts. This information must also be based on verified or credible sources. They cannot base their information solely on hearsay or rumors.
The affidavit must specify the evidence that they will be looking for and the places they would like to search. Warrants cannot be used to search for anything and everything, just specifically what they ask for. For instance, if the affidavit alleges a drug offense, then police
are allowed to look for evidence of drug possession or drug trafficking. If they wanted to gain access to your computer, they would need to obtain a separate warrant to justify the investigation of the computer. The place they are searching must be described in specific detail. This is designed to reduce the possibility of them possibly searching the wrong residence. The affidavit should list the residence address and description, and sometimes directions, in order to avoid this mistake.
Affidavit Requirements to Obtain Search Warrants
At this time, law enforcement must present the affidavit to a judge in order that he/she may approve the issue of a warrant. The judge will base his/her decision on the contents of the affidavit. If the judge approves the issuance of a warrant, it must be in writing, describe the
place and the items to be searched, demonstrate that probable cause exists and be signed by the
judge to ensure validity.
Sometimes a search warrant can seem to be lacking in detail. This is because the affidavit is incorporated into the warrant by reference so that all of the details do not have to be repeated. As long as the warrant references an attached affidavit, all of the necessary components do not have to be restated. If, however, the warrant does not cross-reference the affidavit, then it must list all of the same elements as the affidavit.
Turning Yourself in for a Warrant
If you find out that you have a warrant for your arrest, it is always best to speak with your lawyer before turning yourself in. This is extremely important as the criminal defense attorney will uncover all important details for you before you turn yourself in. In doing so, your attorney will be able to explain to you exactly what you need to do to take care of it, and the possible
consequences. If you turn yourself in before retaining an attorney, you may be incarcerated and unable to reach your attorney at that time. Not to mention the fact that the state doesn't always give your attorney immediate access to you while you are in jail. The length of your stay could be long depending upon how long the state asks that you be held in custody. In obtaining an
attorney ahead of time, you will better understand your length of stay, the specifics of your case,
your upcoming court dates, and whether or not this case affects another open case, i.e. DUI or a
In an instance where there may be a warrant issued because of an error by the clerk of the court, or maybe you did not receive notice of your court date, your attorney will ask that the warrant be “quashed”, meaning cleared. At that time, your attorney will explain to the judge that your failure to appear in court was simply a mistake and that you do not present any dangers to
One of the most important things your attorney will explain to you is the amount of your bond. If the bond was already set and you fail to appear in court, the judge is likely to increase the amount of the bond. Your attorney will usually assist you in posting bond, and if the bond is set too high, he/she can request a bond reduction hearing. At this hearing, you will need to have witnesses to attest to the fact that you should be released and pose no danger. These witnesses should be family members, significant others and employers.
In certain circumstances, your attorney may request a “no bond” or release on recognizance. This is based on your promise to return to court.
How to Find Out if You Have an Outstanding Warrant
You can find out if you have an outstanding warrant by going to your local court's website and looking up your name with your date of birth. The court website will have a section with information about outstanding warrants. If you cannot find anything, you can call the clerk
of the court for information. You may need your case number handy when you call. Your best bet, however, is to contact your attorney to obtain this information for you.
Air Travel with an Outstanding Warrant
Not all airlines check passenger names on domestic flights. However, international flights are a different matter altogether. If you are traveling internationally, it is extremely possible that your name will show up in the airline security database if you have an outstanding
warrant. Not to mention, if you are leaving the country a visa must be obtained. In order to obtain a visa, a background check will be performed. If you have any outstanding warrants, you will not receive a visa and will not be allowed entry into any other country.
The best option before attempting to travel on a domestic or international flight is to always take care of any outstanding warrants to avoid being arrested on the spot.