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The Pennsylvania Code website reflects the Pennsylvania Code changes effective through 53 Pa.B. 7346 (November 25, 2023).

234 Pa. Code Rule 209. Return With Inventory.

Rule 209. Return With Inventory.

 (A)  The law enforcement officer executing the search warrant shall return the search warrant promptly after the search is completed, along with any inventory required under paragraph (C), to the issuing authority.

 (B)  Unexecuted warrants shall be returned promptly to the issuing authority once the period of time authorized for execution of the warrant has expired. The affiant shall retain a copy of the returned unexecuted search.

 (C)  An inventory of items seized shall be made by the law enforcement officer serving a search warrant. The inventory shall be made in the presence of the person from whose possession or premises the property was taken, when feasible, or otherwise in the presence of at least one witness. The officer shall sign a statement on the inventory that it is a true and correct listing of all items seized, and that the signer is subject to the penalties and provisions of 18 Pa.C.S. §  4904(b)—Unsworn Falsification To Authorities. The inventory shall be returned to and filed with the issuing authority.

 (D)  The judicial officer to whom the return was made shall, upon request, cause a copy of the inventory to be delivered to the applicant for the warrant and to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken.

 (E)  When the search warrant affidavit(s) is sealed pursuant to Rule 211, the return shall be made to the justice or judge who issued the warrant.


   The inventory is required to ensure that all items seized are accounted for in the return to the issuing authority. It thus differs from the receipt required by Rule 208, which is for the personal records of those from whose possession or from whose premises property was taken. In some cases, however, the list in the receipt may be sufficiently detailed so as to also be sufficient for use in the inventory. The inventory need not be sworn to before the issuing authority; however, the officer is subject to statutory penalties for unsworn falsification.

   The rule was amended in 2013 specifically to require that the executed warrant be returned to the issuing authority. This amendment reflects a procedure with a long-standing practice but one that had not been codified in the rules.

   See Rule 205(A)(6) regarding the circumstances under which the issuing authority to whom the warrant is returned may differ from the one that issued the warrant.

   As provided in Rule 205(A)(4), search warrants generally authorize execution within a period not to exceed two days. Paragraph (B) requires that an unexecuted warrant be returned to the issuing authority upon expiration of this period.

   Unexecuted search warrants are not public records, see Rule 212(B), and therefore are not to be included in the criminal case file nor are they to be docketed.

   For the obligation of the Commonwealth to disclose exculpatory evidence, see Rule 573 and its Comment.

   Official Note

   Rule 2009 adopted October 17, 1973, effective 60 days hence; amended April 26, 1979, effective July 1, 1979; amended September 3, 1993, effective January 1, 1994; renumbered Rule 209 and amended March 1, 2000, effective April 1, 2001; amended October 22, 2013, effective January 1, 2014; Comment revised July 31, 2017, effective October 1, 2017.

   Committee Explanatory Reports:

   Report explaining the September 3, 1993 amendments published at 21 Pa.B. 3681 (August 17, 1991).

   Final Report explaining the March 1, 2000 reorganization and renumbering of the rules published with the Court’s Order at 30 Pa.B. 1478 (March 18, 2000).

   Final Report explaining the October 22, 2013 amendments related to the return of the search warrant published with the Court’s Order at 43 Pa.B. 6652 (November 9, 2013).

   Final Report explaining the July 31, 2017 comment revisions correcting a cross-reference to Rule 205 published with the Court’s Order at 47 Pa.B. 4681 (August 12, 2017).


   The provisions of this Rule 209 amended October 22, 2013, effective January 1, 2014, 43 Pa.B. 6649; amended July 31, 2017, effective October 1, 2017, 47 Pa.B. 4680. Immediately preceding text appears at serial pages (369640) to (369641).

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