I live in a shared apartment in Virginia, USA with three other people. One of them is suspected in a criminal proceeding (that I am not involved with at all). I have no doubt that the police could obtain a warrant to search the place which would include all of our rooms.

So my question is could they seize my property because of this warrant?

I don't anticipate them wanting any of my stuff, but I would like to know what the limits are and if my privacy will be respected.

  • 1
    Related answers here.
    – feetwet
    Mar 23, 2017 at 18:46

1 Answer 1


If the police are able to attain a warrant that for some reason identifies your room and your things in particular, then they can search your room and seize your things.

Ideally the police would have to give the judge or magistrate reasonable suspicion that their target has put some evidence in your room, or that some of your things are evidence relating to the purported crime.

In practice, warrants err on the side of generality, so the police can easily get a warrant to search "the whole residence" without contemplating the nuance of which tenants use which rooms. Likewise, when determining what to seize, the police can certainly choose to err on the broad side and seize anything that meets the criteria of the warrant without stopping to determine who owns what.

"Respect" of any sort is not a legal factor in the execution of an approved warrant.

  • Suppose for the sake of discussion that TechnoSam has a desk in his room on which police find an explosive device along with plans for a local building and correspondence detailing a plan to use the device in the building. In these circumstances, would they be able to arrest TechnoSam? If they can, will the evidence discovered in his room be inadmissible at trial? Your answer suggests that the evidence would be inadmissible, but I doubt that.
    – phoog
    Mar 23, 2017 at 17:57

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