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What To Do First If Federal Agents Come to Your Home With a Search Warrant

October 25, 2020 Federal Criminal Attorneys

Your home is perhaps your most private space. This is where you retreat after a long hard day at the office. It’s also where you eat, sleep and engage in intimate acts. The federal government has long recognized the home is a special place. As such, they have placed safety nets designed to protect your home from any form of federal intrusion. Government officials are prohibited from entering your inner sanctum except under extremely defined circumstances. In to enter your home they usually need to get what is known as a search warrant. Getting a search warrant is a highly specific form of documentation that requires officials to follow certain legal procedures. Officials must adhere to the laws set down in the fourth amendment to the constitution. This amendment, part of the Bill of Rights, protects people against the possibility of unwarranted intrusions in their home by government officials.

If It Happens

Federal government officials can get a search warrant any time. You could be eating diner and suddenly find yourself on the receiving end of someone in your home against your will and with the full sanction of the American government. Under these circumstances, it can be very hard to keep your temper in check. At the same time, now is the time to think logically and respond rationally. It is best to carefully listen to the people doing the procedure and take a deep breath. Under law, they have the right to investigate your home. However, those laws are not unlimited. The people doing the search must adhere to stated guidelines. The first thing you need to do is find out the person’s name and the organization they represent.

Getting Information

The first thing likely to happen before anything else does it that the people or person involved will give you a business card. This card should have information indicating the person’s name, the division they work for an other details such as an email address and a phone number.

A business card can tell you a great deal about the kind of charges you might be faced with going forward. For example, if you see this person works for the IRS, they are probably looking for tax records. If you see someone from another, specific government agency, you know the search warrant may be connected with that agency’s mission. If you don’t know what agency is being represented, if you can take a spare moment and google the name. This will often tell you a lot about the purpose of the search. You might also find further information about who to contact such as the person’s boss.

You should also alert other members of your household. If you have young children, now is the time to get them out of the house if you can to a relative or a neighbor. Notify a spouse. Even if they are sleeping, they’ll want to know what’s going on. No one wants to wake up in a nightgown only to find a stranger in their hallway. The same is true of any pets in the home. If your dog is likely to growl and bark at strangers, get them in a space where they will not interact with the official. The last thing you need to worry about is the possibility of being sued because you did not restrain your pet.

Call a Lawyer

After calming yourself down and getting everyone out of the way, now is the time to call a lawyer. Even in the middle of the night, the lawyer may have an answering service or someone on call ready to offer you the legal advice you need. A lawyer can talk to the prosecutor directly on your behalf and find out what charges are being brought against you. At that point, the lawyer can also begin to craft a defense on your behalf. The search may only be the first step in a difficult and complicated case that can possibly span a long time. Now is the time begin to seek legal help. It’s also the time to avoid speaking to anyone involved in the search warrant process unless you must.

How to Handle Federal Agents Searching Your Home

When agents from the federal government show up at a person’s home with a search warrant, it is a frightening experience. Individuals who are the subject of a federal investigation know it is a feeling of being powerless and feeling threatened. This is the government’s goal. They want people to realize government agents can go through their personal belongings and there is nothing they can do about it. There are certain things an individual should do if this happens to them.

Obtain Information
It is possible the person being subjected to the search will not know that they’re part of a federal investigation. They need to gather as much information as possible from the federal agents in their home. It is common for the agents to leave a copy of the search warrant as well as business cards. The search warrant is the first clue about what is happening. The type of federal agent will also explain many things. If they are from the DEA, it will involve drugs. If they are from the IRS, it will deal with tax code violations and more.

Lawyer Contact
Once a person’s home or business has been searched by federal agents, they should hire an attorney as soon as possible. These legal professionals will contact the federal agents directly and work to speak with the prosecutor who is assigned to the case. Establishing a line of communication is essential. It will signal to the government that the individual is willing to cooperate. Doing this could also indicate the individual believes they are innocent of any federal criminal charges.

Rights
Even if a person believes they know their rights, they should speak with legal counsel to make sure they know all of their rights. Any person who is being subject to a federal investigation needs to remember their two most important rights. They have the right to have legal counsel and the right to remain silent. Nobody should try and defend themselves to the federal agents searching their home. Federal agents are experienced at asking questions that seem innocent but are intended to get someone to admit to breaking a law. Nobody should say anything during the search and then only speak with their attorney about it.

Evidence
An attorney will know how to discover the reason for the search of their clients property by federal agents. It’s important to learn why the federal agents believe there is evidence at a specific location. An attorney will also know how to find out what evidence the agents were trying to obtain. This information will be essential for planning how to move forward after the search.

Record Details of the Search
The federal government is required to comply with all the laws established in the U.S. Constitution. This includes federal agents conducting their search at any location in a reasonable manner. Should the federal agents enter a location and not announce themselves, refuse to show their warrant, and not permit the residents to get dressed or behave in other unreasonable ways, it is a problem. An attorney could use this behavior to get any evidence discovered by the federal agents thrown out. A person should write down the details of what happened during their search. This includes the number of agents involved, what was said by the agents, their treatment of the person being investigated, and more. This information should then be given by a person directly to their attorney.

Don’t Talk About the Case
When a person is under federal investigation, they shouldn’t talk to anyone about their case except their attorney. A person facing this situation will be under a significant amount of stress. They may want to speak with someone about what is happening to them. They must realize there is no way for them to know who is working with the government. This could include friends, family members, co-workers, or any person an individual may believe they can trust. It is always possible that whatever they say will be immediately reported back to the federal agents conducting the investigation.

Don’t Assume Warrant is Valid
It’s important to realize that simply because federal agents have a warrant doesn’t mean it is valid. The U.S. Constitution provides certain criteria that a search warrant must meet to be valid. A search warrant has to be based on probable cause. If it can be proven the search warrant was overly broad in its description of how the search should be conducted or wasn’t based on probable cause, it could be ruled invalid.

A person facing a federal investigation should speak to an experienced and knowledgeable criminal defense attorney as soon as possible. The attorneys at Spodek Law Group will know how to get a person answers to their important questions. They will know how to discover the scope and nature of the government’s investigation. Their goal will be to protect their client’s rights and provide them with the best possible legal defense of their case.

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