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Telephonic Search Warrants

NCJ Number
University of Miami Law Review Volume: 38 Issue: 4 Dated: (July 1984) Pages: 625-635
G P Alpert
Date Published
11 pages
This article focuses upon the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure in relation to telephonic search warrants and upon several controversial issues involved with their use.
The amendment to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules allows for a warrant to be issued under certain circumstances 'based upon sworn and oral testimony communicated by telephone or other appropriate means.' The basic requirements that must be met under this provision are outlined. For example, the warrant must be requested by a 'Federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government,' and application for the warrant must be made to a Federal magistrate. The oral testimony in support of the warrant must be sworn and recorded, with the oath administered by the magistrate in advance. Additionally, the magistrate must record the call after being informed that its purpose is to request a warrant. Issues concerning the acquisition and use of telephone search warrants include (1) problems arising if the magistrate does not have a recording device available, or if the device fails, (2) questions regarding the issuance of a warrant based on an informant's testimony, and (3) the extent to which warrantless searches will continue to be justified when telephonic warrants are available. Included are 53 footnotes.