Nolo's Plain-English Law Dictionary
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- 1) In criminal law, to examine another's premises (including a vehicle) or person to look for evidence of criminal activity. It is unconstitutional under the Fourth and Fourteenth Amendments for law enforcement officers to conduct a search without a "search warrant" issued by a judge, or without facts that give the officer "probable cause" to believe evidence of a specific crime is present and there is not enough time to obtain a search warrant. 2) In civil law, to trace the records of ownership of real property in what is commonly called a "title search."