What is a Search Warrant?
A search warrant is a judicially authorized exception to the constitutional protection against government searches. A search warrant in Vermont may be issued only by a judicial officer upon request of a law enforcement officer, an attorney for the state, or any other person authorized by law.
Search warrants are controlled by Vermont Rule of Criminal Procedure 41. Search warrants may be issued to search for and seize any:
(A) evidence of the commission of a criminal offense, or
(B) contraband, the fruits of crime, or things otherwise criminally possessed, or
(C) weapons or other things by which a crime has been committed or is about to be committed, or
(D) person who has been kidnapped or unlawfully imprisoned or restrained in violation of the laws of this state, or who has been kidnapped in another jurisdiction and is now concealed within this state, or any human fetus or human corpse, or
(2) search for a person whose arrest is authorized by law;
(3) monitor conversations for which one party has consented in order to obtain evidence of the commission of a crime.
(4) attach, use, or enter any premises to install a tracking device or use a tracking device to track the movement of a person or property to obtain evidence of the commission of a crime.
A search warrant can only issue if the judicial officer is satisfied that there is probable cause to believe that grounds for the application exist based upon an affidavit or sworn testimony. The finding of probable cause has to be based on substantial evidence.
There are requirements for what a Vermont search warrant must contain. Specifically, a warrant must identify:
(A)the property or other object of the search and name or describe the person or place to be searched, or
(B)the conversations to be monitored, or
(C) (i)the premises to be entered to install a tracking device, and
(ii)the person or property the movements of whom or which will be monitored by the tracking device and the location of the property where the tracking device will be installed, or,
(iii)if no device is to be installed, the tracking method to be used and the person or property to be tracked.
Why do search warrants get denied in Vermont? If after reviewing an application for a search warrant a judicial officer does not find probable cause to support the issuance of a search warrant, the warrant must be denied. The denied search warrant, application, and affidavit must be then filed with the clerk of court designated in the warrant.