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v. 1) to examine another's premises (including a vehicle) to look for evidence of criminal activity. It is unconstitutional under the 4th and 14th Amendments for law enforcement officers to conduct a search without a "search warrant" issued by a judge or without facts which give the officer "probable cause" to believe evidence of a specific crime is on the premises and there is not enough time to obtain a search warrant. 2) to trace the records of ownership of real property in what is commonly called a "title search." (See: search and seizure, search warrant, probable cause, abstract, chain of title)

Copyright © 1981-2005 by Gerald N. Hill and Kathleen T. Hill. All Right reserved.


examination of records or registers, especially by or on behalf of purchasers, to ascertain the existence of encumbrances. Whether title to land is or is not subject to the Land Registration Acts, a purchaser should search the Local Land Charges Register maintained by the local authority for details of public local charges and burdens. Where title is subject to the Land Registration Acts, a search should be made of the land registry to discover the existence of charges, restrictive covenants, etc, affecting the land. Where the title is not subject to the Land Registration Acts, searches should be made in the General Register of Land Charges in connection with these matters. In Scottish conveyancing practice there must be searches showing no advance encumbrances in the appropriate registers - the Property Register for cases where the land is registered, the Register of Sasines and the Register of Inhibitions and Adjudications where the land is held feudally.
Collins Dictionary of Law © W.J. Stewart, 2006

SEARCH, crim. law. An examination of a man's house, premises or person, for the purpose of discovering proof of his guilt in relation to some crime or misdemeanor of which be is accused.
     2. The constitution of the United. States, amendments, art. 4, protects the people from unreasonable searches and seizures. 3 Story, Const. Sec. 1895; Rawle, Const. ch. 10, p. 127; 10 John. R. 263; 11 John. R. 500; 3 Cranch, 447.
     3. By the act of March 2, 1799, s. 68, 1 Story's L. U. S. 632, it is enacted, that every collector, naval officer, and surveyor, or other person specially appointed, by either of them, for that purpose, shall have fall power and authority to enter any ship or vessel, in which they shall have reason to suspect any goods, wares, or merchandise, subject to duty, are concealed, and therein to search for, seize, and secure any such goods, wares, or merchandise; and if they shall have cause to suspect a concealment thereof in any particular dwelling house, store, building, or other place they or either of them shall; upon proper application, on oath, to any justice of the peace, be entitled to a warrant to enter such house, store, or other place, (in the day time only, and there to search for such goods; and if any shall be found, to seize and secure the same for trial; and all such goods, wares, and merchandise, on which the duties shall not have been paid, or secured to be paid, shall be forfeited.

SEARCH, practice. An examination made in the proper lien office for mortgages, liens, judgments, or other encumbrances, against real estate. The certificate given by the officer as to the result of such examination is also called a search.
     2. Conveyancers and others who cause searches to be made ought to be very careful that they should be correct, with regard, 1. To the time during which the person against whom the search has been made owned the premises. 2. To the property searched against, which ought to be properly described. 3. To the form of the certificate of search.

SEARCH, RIGHT OF, mar. law. The right existing in a belligerent to examine and inspect the papers of a neutral vessel at sea. On the continent of Europe, this is called the right of visit. Dalloz, Dict. mots Prises Maritimes, n. 104-111.
     2. The right does not extend to examine the cargo; nor does it extend to a ship of war, it being strictly confined to the searching of merchant vessels. The exercise of the right is to prevent the commerce of contraband goods. Although frequently resisted by powerful neutral nations, yet this right appears now to be fixed beyond contravention. The penalty for violently resisting this right is the confiscation of the property so withheld from visitation. Unless in extreme cases of gross abuse of his right by a belligerent, the neutral has no right to resist a search. 1 Kent, Com. 154; 2 Bro. Civ. and Adm. Law, 319; Mann. Comm. B. 3, c. 11.

A Law Dictionary, Adapted to the Constitution and Laws of the United States. By John Bouvier. Published 1856.
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