Electronic Warrants and Electronic Warrant Applications

A warrant is an order issued by a judge or magistrate that authorizes law enforcement officers to search a place or obtain certain items. A warrant must be particularly descriptive of the places and individuals that are to be searched, and the items that are to be seized (California Penal Code SS 817). Searches conducted on electronic storage media, such as computers and mobile devices, require special attention in light of the Fourth Amendment protections that apply to them.

Some states, including Colorado, Massachusetts, and Utah, have a statewide system that allows magistrates to sign warrants electronically. However, many magistrates have expressed concern about the accuracy of this process and fear that it could result in unauthorized or inaccurate searches or the dissemination of information not authorized by the warrant.

Other concerns about ewarrants center on the legality of such technology and its potential for abuse. The ACLU’s Speech, Privacy & Tech Project has long advocated for robust rules and procedures to protect people’s rights in the age of electronic information. The paper describes some of the unique features of digital evidence and points to legal arguments that support a strong framework for obtaining and executing warrants in this area.

The ewarrant software solution developed by BerkOne allows officers to complete a warrant application on their computer and submit it to the system. It notifies the clerks and judges that a warrant has been submitted and then sends automatic updates to the officer so they can track a warrant’s status from start to finish. electronic warrants

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