The sight of federal agents at your home might come as a surprise to most people. However, they generally don’t stop by people’s homes just to talk about the weather. Therefore, it is likely that the government is interested in learning more about various activities that you have engaged in. In some cases, they will come with a warrant to search your home, seize property or both. What should you do if presented with such a warrant?
Confirm the Warrant Is Correct
You generally have the right to see the warrant that is used to search your home or other property. If it is not signed, it is typically not valid. Therefore, it may be possible to deny a federal agent the right to enter your home. In the event that he or she enters anyway, any evidence could be considered illegally obtained and thrown out at trial. It is important to note that you should always be polite and courteous when speaking with a federal agent. This can help to keep you and your family safe during an encounter.
What If the Warrant Is Valid?
If the federal government has a valid search warrant, you have no choice but to comply with it. During the search, you may be confined to a certain part of your home. However, as soon as the search is over, you should make a phone call to your attorney. He or she will be able to schedule a meeting and talk about how it could impact your case. Legal counsel may also be able to find out more about the warrant by speaking with the judge or prosecutor in your case.
You Aren’t Necessarily Guilty of a Crime
It is important to understand that a search warrant isn’t an implication of guilt in a given matter. It is simply a tool that law enforcement can use to obtain evidence when it has reason to believe a crime has occurred. Of course, there is a chance that nothing is found that links you to a crime. Furthermore, it is possible that the government was lied to or misled by an informant prior to asking for the warrant.
Don’t Say Anything During the Search
You are under no obligation to say anything to any agent who comes to your home. Instead, you should sit quietly and patiently until the government has found what it is looking for. Generally speaking, you are under no obligation to cooperate with the search or help agents find anything that they are looking for. Talking to agents may result in saying something that could provide probable cause to expand the scope of the original warrant.
Anything In Plain View Can Be Fair Game
If an agent finds drugs, guns or other contraband in plain view, he or she can usually seize it. This may be true even if these items are not related to the charge or charges that the government is originally pursuing. For example, if agents were looking for a laptop, they could still take an unregistered gun or ammunition that belonged to it.
Let Your Attorney Protect Your Interests
An attorney may be able to help get evidence suppressed or put into context why it was found. For instance, it may be possible to prove that a gun was legally registered in your name or that drugs found in your home belonged to someone else. Your attorney may also be able to convince a judge or jury that any statements made to agents were made under duress. That may result in those statements being ruled inadmissible at trial.
While you may not expect the federal government to visit your home, it is important that you know what to do when its agents arrive. Ideally, you will stay calm, say nothing and let your attorney deal with any fallout that comes from a search.
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