Arrest and Search Warrants

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If law enforcement officers come to your door with an arrest warrant, step outside and lock the door behind you. Law enforcement officers are allowed to search any room you go into, so don't go back into the house for any reason. If they have an arrest warrant, hiding won't help, because they are allowed to force their way in if they know you are there. It's usually better to just go with them without giving them an opportunity to search.

If law enforcement officers have a search warrant, nothing changes—it's legally safest to say the Magic Words. Again, you have nothing to lose from refusing to consent to a search and lots to gain if the search warrant is incorrect or invalid. If they do have a search warrant, ask to read it. A valid warrant must have a recent date, the correct address, and a judge's or magistrate's signature; some warrants also indicate the time of day the law enforcement officers can search. You should say the Magic Words whether or not the search warrant appears correct. The same goes for encounters with any other government official who tries to search you, your belongings, or your house.

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