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What is a search warrant?

A search warrant is an order in writing issued in the name of the People of the Philippines, signed by a judge and directed to a peace officer, commanding him to search for personal property described therein and bring it before the court. (Section 1, Rule 126, Rules of Court)

Nature of search warrant

A search warrant is in the nature of a criminal process akin to a writ of discovery. It is a special and peculiar remedy, drastic in its nature, and made necessary because of a public necessity. Such a warrant is considered merely as a process, generally issued by a court in the exercise of its ancillary jurisdiction, and not a criminal action to be entertained by a court pursuant to its original jurisdiction.

A judicial process is defined as a writ, warrant, subpoena, or other formal writing issued by authority of law; also the means of accomplishing an end, including judicial proceedings, or all writs, warrants, summonses, and orders of courts of justice or judicial officers. It is likewise held to include a writ, summons, or order issued in a judicial proceeding to acquire jurisdiction of a person or his property, to expedite the cause or enforce the judgment, or a writ, warrant, mandate, or other process issuing from a court of justice.

A search warrant is merely a judicial process designed by the Rules to respond only to an incident in the main case, if one has already been instituted, or in anticipation thereof. (Malaloan vs CA, G.R. No. 104879, May 6, 1994)

Constitutional Provision

The right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects against unreasonable searches and seizures of whatever nature and for any purpose shall be inviolable, and no search warrant or warrant of arrest shall issue except upon probable cause to be determined personally by the judge after examination under oath or affirmation of the complainant and the witnesses he may produce, and particularly describing the place to be searched and the persons or things to be seized (Sec. 2, Art. III, Constitution).

Right against unreasonable search and seizure 

The constitutional right against unreasonable search and seizure refers to the immunity of one’s person, whether a citizen or alien, from interference by government, included in whish is his residence, his papers and other possession (Villanueva vs. Querubin, 48 SCRA 345). 

The overriding function of the constitutional guarantee is to protect personal privacy and human dignity against unwarranted intrusion by the State. It is deference to one’s personality that lies at the core of his right, but it could also be looked upon as a recognition of a constitutionally protected area primarily one’s house, but not necessarily thereto confined. What is sought to be guarded is a man’s prerogative to choose who is allowed entry to his residence. In that haven of refuge, his individuality can assert itself not only in the choice of who shall be welcome but likewise in the kind of objects he wants around him. Thus is outlawed any unwarranted intrusion by government, which is called upon to refrain from any intrusion of his dwelling and to respect the privacies of his life (Schmerber vs. California, 384 US 757).

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