A search warrant is a court order issued by a magistrate, judge or supreme court official that authorizes law enforcement officers to conduct a search of a person, location, or vehicle for evidence of a crime and to confiscate evidence if it is found. a search warrant cannot be issued in aid of civil process. jurisdictions that respect the rule of law and a right to privacy put constraints on the powers of police investigators, and typically require search warrants, or an equivalent procedure, for searches conducted as part of a criminal investigation. an exception is usually made for hot pursuit: if a criminal flees the scene of a crime and a police officer follows him, the officer has the right to enter a property in which the criminal has sought shelter. conversely, in authoritarian regimes, the police typically have the right to search property and people without having to provide justification, or without having to secure the permission of a court.