Article 4A.

Administrative Search and Inspection Warrants.

15-27.2. Warrants to conduct inspections authorized by law.

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of Article 11 of Chapter 15A, any official or employee of the State or of a unit of county or local government of North Carolina may, under the conditions specified in this section, obtain a warrant authorizing him to conduct a search or inspection of property if such a search or inspection is one that is elsewhere authorized by law, either with or without the consent of the person whose privacy would be thereby invaded, and is one for which such a warrant is constitutionally required.

(b) The warrant may be issued by any magistrate of the general court of justice, judge, clerk, or assistant or deputy clerk of any court of record whose territorial jurisdiction encompasses the property to be inspected.

(c) The issuing officer shall issue the warrant when he is satisfied the following conditions are met:

(1) The one seeking the warrant must establish under oath or affirmation that the property to be searched or inspected is to be searched or inspected as part of a legally authorized program of inspection which naturally includes that property, or that there is probable cause for believing that there is a condition, object, activity or circumstance which legally justifies such a search or inspection of that property;

(2) An affidavit indicating the basis for the establishment of one of the grounds described in (1) above must be signed under oath or affirmation by the affiant;

(3) The issuing official must examine the affiant under oath or affirmation to verify the accuracy of the matters indicated by the statement in the affidavit;

(d) The warrant shall be validly issued only if it meets the following requirements:

(1) Except as provided in subsection (e), it must be signed by the issuing official and must bear the date and hour of its issuance above his signature with a notation that the warrant is valid for only 24 hours following its issuance;

(2) It must describe, either directly or by reference to the affidavit, the property where the search or inspection is to occur and be accurate enough in description so that the executor of the warrant and the owner or the possessor of the property can reasonably determine from it what person or property the warrant authorizes an inspection of;

(3) It must indicate the conditions, objects, activities or circumstances which the inspection is intended to check or reveal;

(4) It must be attached to the affidavit required to be made in order to obtain the warrant.

(e) Any warrant issued under this section for a search or inspection shall be valid for only 24 hours after its issuance, must be personally served upon the owner or possessor of the property between the hours of 8:00 A.M. and 8:00 P.M. and must be returned within 48 hours. If the warrant, however, was procured pursuant to an investigation authorized by G.S. 58-79-1, the warrant may be executed at any hour, is valid for 48 hours after its issuance, and must be returned without unnecessary delay after its execution or after the expiration of the 48 hour period if it is not executed. If the owner or possessor of the property is not present on the property at the time of the search or inspection and reasonable efforts to locate the owner or possessor have been made and have failed, the warrant or a copy thereof may be affixed to the property and shall have the same effect as if served personally upon the owner or possessor.

(f) No facts discovered or evidence obtained in a search or inspection conducted under authority of a warrant issued under this section shall be competent as evidence in any civil, criminal or administrative action, nor considered in imposing any civil, criminal, or administrative sanction against any person, nor as a basis for further seeking to obtain any warrant, if the warrant is invalid or if what is discovered or obtained is not a condition, object, activity or circumstance which it was the legal purpose of the search or inspection to discover; but this shall not prevent any such facts or evidence to be so used when the warrant issued is not constitutionally required in those circumstances.

(g) The warrants authorized under this section shall not be regarded as search warrants for the purposes of application of Article 11 of Chapter 15A of the General Statutes of North Carolina. (1967, c. 1260; 1979, c. 729; 1983, c. 294, ss. 1, 2; c. 739, ss. 1, 2.)