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

October 9, 2021 Federal Criminal Attorneys

A search warrant grants permission to federal agents to search a premises for evidence of a crime. Before the judge will issue a search warrant, federal agents must provide probable cause that the evidence they are seeking will be found at a particular residence.

The Fourth Amendment of The Constitution.

The Fourth Amendment of The Constitution states that the government will not have the right to search your person or your property. In order to investigate a crime, law enforcement officials are required to obtain a search warrant, but they must be able to show that there is probable cause to believe that evidence of the crime will be found at your residence. Law enforcement officials present an affidavit to the judge that lists the evidence officers gathered that the evidence of a crime exists at the residence. Then, the judge usually issues a search warrant for the property.

When Can Federal Agents Execute a Search Warrant?

In most cases, federal agents will execute a search warrant in the daytime. Agents must arrive at a residence between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. As long as they arrive in between those hours, they will be free to search the areas that the evidence is likely to be in a continuous manner. Therefore, if they arrive at a residence at 8:30 p.m., they may search until 3:30 a.m. if their search requires this amount of time.

Federal agents may not burst into your home when they first arrive at your door. They are required to knock on your door and announce themselves first. They must identify themselves, inform you that they are authorized to be there and then tell you why they are there. To do this, they may use a bullhorn, or they may even call you on the phone. Then, they are allowed to demand that you allow them inside.

If you do not allow federal agents to enter your home after they follow the protocol listed above, they are entitled to force their way into your home. This doesn’t necessarily mean that they will break the door down. Forcing entry can also mean opening the door and walking in, but they will do this if you fail to come to the door and open it yourself.

“Denial of Entry.”

The time that you do not come to the door and open it for federal officials will be considered a “denial of entry.” If at that time you decide to flee, the agents may hear this and immediately force entry. If you take the time to destroy evidence, the agents will consider this to be a denial of entry, and they will enter the premises right away. You must also not announce to the agents that you are refusing to come out because this is a definite denial of entry, and they will promptly enter your residence.

After Federal Agents Enter Your Residence.

After federal agents enter your residence, they will be able to go through your home and find out who is in the house. The Summers rule gives them permission to detain everyone found to be in the residence while federal agents search it. They are allowed to do this because the law states that anyone in a house that is subject to a search for evidence of a crime is under reasonable suspicion of being involved in that crime. If they have the search warrant at that time, they will show it to you. If not, they will show it to you when it arrives later in the day.

After federal agents enter your residence, they are only allowed to search the premises for evidence of a crime. They are not allowed to search the people they find in the house. Federal agents would only be able to search you if you have been named in the search warrant. In the event that federal agents find evidence of a crime, they will be able to arrest you. In that case, they will be able to search you at that time.

Before federal agents can leave your home, they must secure your property if they destroyed it when they forced their way into the house. They will also leave you with a copy of the search warrant. If they take any of your property, they must leave you an inventory of everything that they seized.

Contact a criminal defense law firm if you are subject to a federal search warrant.

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