Supreme Court Seal
Supreme Court Seal
South Carolina
Judicial Branch

The Supreme Court of South Carolina


I find that the issuance of search warrants by facsimile under controlled conditions will enhance the ability of law enforcement in Richland County to obtain evidence of criminal activities.

Therefore, pursuant to Article V, Section 4, South Carolina Constitution, the following procedure for obtaining search warrants and search warrants by facsimile is approved for use in Richland County.

Rules for Obtaining Search Warrants

1) Search warrants should be obtained by law enforcement officers in person before a magistrate judge during usual operating hours whenever possible and when circumstances are practical.

2 )In extraordinary circumstances or after normal court hours when a law enforcement officer finds it necessary to obtain a search warrant the following procedures will apply in obtaining facsimile search warrants. Law enforcement officers from jurisdiction out of Richland County must obtain facsimile issued search warrants through local law enforcement officers.

3) All search warrants issued either in person or by facsimile must fully comply with the language and format established and authorized by statute by the Attorney General of this State.

Procedures for Obtaining Facsimile Search Warrants

1) The law enforcement officer applying for the facsimile search warrant shall fully prepare the search warrant and all related affidavits. The search warrant must consist of the minimum four pages required by the Attorney General's approved form and each page shall by initialed or signed by the law enforcement officer.

2) The officer will then telephonically contact the district magistrate. If that magistrate is unavailable, then the officer may contact the on-call magistrate. In the event a search warrant is needed after normal court hours, the on-call magistrate should be contacted.

3) The officer will then telephonically brief the magistrate on the need for the search warrant and all related facts pertaining to the requested search warrant.

4) The officer will then fax the search warrant to the magistrate. The officer shall sign all pages of the warrant prior to faxing the warrant. The magistrate will then review the warrant to determine if it is complete. If the magistrate is satisfied with the warrant he will then contact the officer and the officer will be telephonically sworn to the facts contained in the warrant.

5) The magistrate will then sign each page of the search warrant and fax it back to the officer.

6) The original search warrant and the facsimile search warrant will then be served and a copy of the facsimile search warrant shall be left at the address, place or thing searched. The original and facsimile copy with the officer's original signature is to be returned to the issuing magistrate within ten days of the service of the warrant.

7) Magistrates must require confirmation of the identity of the officer requesting the search warrant in one of the following three ways. A notation on the warrant should be made by the magistrate to identify the method used to identify the officer.

A) The magistrate may identify the officer by voice recognition alone if he is satisfied of his own personal knowledge of the officer's voice and is completely sure whom he is speaking with.

B) The magistrate may contact the dispatcher of the agency the requesting officer works for to confirm that the requesting officer is employed by that law enforcement agency and is currently on duty and has reported his request to have the warrant issued by facsimile to his supervisor or dispatcher.

C) The magistrates of Richland County shall be provided a listing of all investigative personnel and such list shall include the pager number of all officers. The magistrate may then numerically page the requesting officer and then enter a sequence of numbers in the officer's pager. The magistrate will then require the officer to recite the number series that the magistrate entered. If this method is used, the magistrate shall note the number series used on the search warrant.

The provisions of this Order are effective immediately and shall remain in effect unless amended or revoked by further Order of the Chief Justice.

  s/Jean Hoefer Toal
Jean Hoefer Toal
Chief Justice

July 26, 2001
Columbia, South Carolina