Mississippi could be adopting a more digital-friendly method of issuing and receiving search warrants.
The House of Representatives on Thursday voted 83-35 to pass legislation that would authorize the electronic issuance of a search warrant. In other words, a committee-adopted substitution of House Bill 295, authored by Rep. Brent Anderson, R-Gulfport, would allow electronic signatures to be utilized for search warrants.
An officer would be able to use an electronic platform to request a search warrant. A judge would then be given the legal ability to use a digital format to mark his or her name on a document permitting law enforcement to search for a certain person, a specified place, or an automobile for criminal evidence.
If a warrant is executed on a suspected criminal, the individual would have the chance to submit a digital version of an affidavit to a judge. However, the bill states that the affiant must be under oath, understanding that the signature is made under penalty of perjury and in compliance with state law.
According to legislation, there would be no legal grounds to deny electronically requested warrants and signatures used throughout the process, meaning digital signatures would have full legal standing just as written ones currently do.
To reduce skepticism over the legitimacy of one’s name being used in a non-paper platform, the bill requires any applications to allow for digital signatures to be used to have security procedures in place that ensure the authenticity of the digital signature.
An electronic record of the warrant or affidavit, including the time and date of when the signature was attached, must be made. Encryption measures will be enforced to ensure secure access to the application providing the line for electronic signatures.
If passed by the Senate and signed into law by Governor Tate Reeves, the legislation will go into effect beginning July 1.