How Search Warrants Work: Part 1

Updated: May 11




How did they end up at your place?

Somebody told them. That’s how.

You don’t think the Gardai got the Ouija Board out and it led them to you do you? Hardly.

Somebody told them that you were in possession of drugs.

Maybe they said some other things.

Maybe they said that you had sold them some drugs (sale) or had just given them some (supply).


But now the Gardai are at your door with a search warrant.

They didn’t give you a copy of the warrant?

They don’t have to. They only have to let you read it.

They’re not required to give you a copy.

And they never give you the original warrant to read.

They hold that firmly.

But you can read it, at a distance.


The last thing a student wants is for their parents to find out that not only do they take drugs, but now they’ve been arrested for it.

So somebody somewhere told them. That “somebody” is likely either a confidential informant or some gormless innocent or other.

Students are the best: they’re inexperienced when it comes to law and order and students especially can be relied on to panic.

And when they panic they can easily blurt out where they got the stuff from.


Why? Well, the Gardai are not stupid.

They know something pretty important when it comes to students.

Third-level education is a costly business and the last thing a student wants is their parents being telephoned by the Gardai that “your son has been arrested and wants to speak to you on the phone”.


The parents have worked hard and done their best to provide money for their son to go to college, and now he’s spending that money on drugs?


The Guards know this as well.


The last thing a student wants is for their parents to find out that not only do they take drugs, but now they’ve been arrested for it. Parents always have zero tolerance for drugs and if it got out that their son had been arrested for drug possession, well, they’d be scandalised.


What would the neighbours say?

Sure, some of them would sympathise but some others would start whispering that their boy was “always a bit wild” and that the parents didn’t do much about it when he was growing up.

Maybe if they had taken a firmer grip years earlier…


The Guards know this too.


Back to the student under arrest.


The Gardai are now engaged in a process called “leveraging”.

Leveraging involves off-setting fear.

You leverage the fear created when you discover drugs on a student against the fear of their parents finding out.

One fear far outweighs the other.


The outcome is almost always the same: the student will not want their parents finding out what has happened.

No matter what.

So they talk.

But they’ll be very nervous of revealing too much because of other fears: if they cooperate with the Gardai, won’t the person that they got the drugs from realise that it was them that gave them away?


Possibly, but the Gardai have a way of dealing with this too.

After all, it’s in their interests that the drugs are apprehended right away, but this may take longer if the person under arrest fears retaliation afterwards.

Search warrants are time-sensitive: the longer you leave it, the greater the chance that the drugs will be disposed of.

So they need to move quickly.

But they don’t want some student getting into trouble afterwards either.

So a compromise is reached.


The Gardai are now engaged in a process called “leveraging”.
You leverage the fear created when you discover drugs on a student against the fear of their parents finding out.
One fear far outweighs the other.

People who possess drugs at home live in a constant state of fear: the fear of being raided by the Guards.

Drugs carry jail sentences and if you’re in the business of selling it you’re running the risk of jail.

So, there’s a lot of fear.

After all you can’t be too careful these days and people have a terrible habit of gossiping.


What’s to stop someone who doesn’t even know you telling a Guard who’s just searched them that you have drugs in your home? This person may not ever have met you but someone you gave drugs to might have mentioned your name in passing to them.

And now they’re blabbing your name to the Guards. Worse still, they’re blabbing it to save their own skin!


And come to think of it, can you really trust those people you’ve had around to your place when the drinks were flowing and you introduced them to some of your stash?

Who have they told?

All of a sudden you, who’s never appeared on their radar and who they’ve never even heard of, could have two carloads of Gardai turning up outside your front door.

So you need to hide your stash. And not under the bed where anybody could find it, but really well, just in case the Guards do arrive.


The question is: how do the Gardai seize the drugs without the dealers joining the dots and figuring out who squealed on them?



That’s Part 2.

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