After a Search Warrant: The First Thing You Should Do
The American courts and all those who work for them have broad powers. Under constitutional law, law officers of the court have the right to investigate crimes. As part of this investigative process, officers of the court may want to search someone’s home or investigate items such as records at their place of business. There are several ways that officials can choose to conduct such an investigation. One such method is via what is known as a search warrant. The search warrant is a highly specific legal document. It empowers officials to come into an individual’s home and other private spaces in order to look for evidence that a crime has been committed. If you’re the target of such a search, you might be wondering what to do next.
The first thing you must do is call a lawyers. You have certain rights under law even if you are being searched. These rights must be observed during the process of administering the warrant and carrying it out. A lawyer can help you sort out how to respond while fully protecting your rights. At the same time, it can be hard to get hold of a lawyer immediately. If you have been served with a warrant in the middle of the night, you might have to wait until the next morning to get access to legal counsel. In the meantime, there are certain steps that you can take right now. The reach of the law is scary but it’s not the end of the world. Keep in mind that anything you say and do can be used against you later as as any case continues.
If you ask any questions, it’s best to try and keep to the facts. Do not give away your thoughts or speak further about any issues that might be related to the case. You should make an effort to get access to their business card and find out which agency is doing the investigation. You are entitled to know who is behind the search warrant and what kind of legal issues that you might be facing right now. However, in general, you want to keep all conversation to a minimum. Do not speak unless you have to speak right now. Watch the agent or agents carefully as they work but say as little as you can once you find out why they are there.
It Can Take Time
It’s also a good idea to keep in mind that a search does not necessarily mean that you’ll be charged in a court of law immediately. A case can time to unfold. Government officials may be collecting evidence but this does not mean that they have a case against you. A case can take time to build. At the same time, there are statutes of limitations that will apply in many cases. For example, if you are being accused of a crime such as art theft, the federal government must act within a certain time frame to make a case or they are not allowed to do so under law.
In the meantime, the government may have taken some of your property. This property can be kept by the government for weeks and even years as they assemble the case. In general, you can expect items like computers back once the feds have made relevant copies of the items they want to use in any case. In other instances, you might have to wait a long time just to have them returned. The same may also be true of your important legal documents. Government officials can take your passport if they think you’re likely to flee to another country. If they do this, you might have to wait a long time to get the passport back and then promise to agree to stay in the jurisdiction until the investigation is done.
Write it Down
As the process continues and after it’s over, this is the time to write down what happened. You should include as many details as you can. This includes the number of agents at your door, when they arrived, what was said by each agent and all information they gave you during the search. It’s also time to write down any names you were given as well as any business cards that were handed out during the search. Your goal is capture what happened accurately. It’s also to make sure that you have as many details as you can on hand. Keep this in a single file. Label the file Attorney Client Privileged. This makes it clear that the legal authorities do not have the right to read it without consulting with your lawyer. Take that deep breath you need and start getting an organized response as soon as you can.