Legal Question in Civil Litigation in Maryland

Execution of a search warrant

Two detectives asked to come into our house. They were sent by their supervisor. They stated that they wanted to look in three places, the back yard, the basement, and the garage. We let them in. We asked them how many other detectives would be doing the searching. They told us that only two would do the search. One of the second pair of detectives was one we had regestered a complaint several months earlier. The complaint was still under investigation.

About 5 to ten minutes after the first 4 detectives entered the house, 6 more detectives came into the house. At that time, we were presented with a search warrant. Listed were two extension ladders, one 24ft.and one 32ft.

During the time of the search, one female detective followed my wife and 14 year old daughter up to their bedrooms on the second floor and into each of their bathrooms.

I have two questions.

1. When does a search warrant have to be shown to the people in the house to be searched?

2. Since we were told at first that they wanted to look at the three places mentioned above, can they go into other places in the house, like the second floor?

Thank you in advance.

Asked on 1/22/04, 7:28 pm

1 Answer from Attorneys

Robert Sher Wagshal and Sher

Re: Execution of a search warrant

Police officers are required to show the warrant to you when they arrive at your home, since it is their legal authority to search in the absence of obtaining permission from you. They should also give you a copy of the warrant. Since you initially gave permission, they could enter at that time without a warrant, to search the 3 areas for which you gave permission. However, the "plain sight" rule also applies, meaning if, in the course of their search, they saw contraband or evidence of illegal activity, they would be entitled to investigate that. Once the warrant is obtained and served, they could search the entire house, assuming the warrant was that broad, which I suspect it was.

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Answered on 1/23/04, 9:51 am

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