One Warrant One Search Tennessee
The rationale for the "one warrant, one search" rule was explained by the Tennessee Supreme Court in McDonald v. State, 259 S.W.2d at 525:
if the law allowed the police to repeatedly enter and search a residence or business at will until the warrant expired, the warrant "could become a means of tyrannical oppression in the hands of an unscrupulous officer".
Professor LaFave gives an example of the operation of this rule:
Where the police unsuccessfully searched premises for a gun and departed, but then returned an hour later and searched further because in the interim an informant told the police of the precise location of the gun, the second search could not be justified as an additional search under the authority of the warrant.
Wayne R. LaFave, Search and Seizure (3rd ed., 1996), 4.10(d), Vol. 2, p. 679.
There is, however, a (short) line of federal cases rejecting the majority rule and adopting the contrary rule that a search warrant remains active until it expires, no matter how many times it has been executed.
The first in this series of cases was the Sixth Circuit's decision in United States v. Bowling.
In Bowling, the court declared that even though a search warrant had been served the previous day, this fact "did not vitiate its powers on the following morning" because, under applicable state law, the warrant did not expire for another seven days.
The Bowling court provided no authority for this statement, and the court did not acknowledge the majority rule to the contrary. Nevertheless, the Eighth Circuit has followed Bowling's suggestion that a search warrant can be repeatedly executed until it expires.
Similarly, in Commonwealth v. Baldwin, the police executed a warrant at an auto shop to search for stolen vehicles. the officers wrote down the vehicle identification numbers of the cars in the shop, and they checked these numbers on their computer, but none of the vehicles appeared to be stolen.
Later, the police realized that they had not performed the computer check correctly, so they ran the VINs again. According to the new computer check, one of the vehicles they had seen was reported stolen.
The officers returned to the auto shop the next day and asked to see this particular vehicle, but now it was missing. Two of the auto shop employees suggested that the car must have been stolen from the shop overnight. the police officers were skeptical of this explanation.
They undertook a more rigorous search of vehicles, parts, and paperwork -- thereby uncovering more stolen vehicles.