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Search Warrants in White-Collar Cases

February 5, 2019

The criminal justice system divides cases into certain categories. In general, cases can be divided into blue collar crimes and white collar crimes. White collar crimes are usually defined as crimes that are not violent. For example, someone who engages in computer fraud or embezzlement is not directly harming someone physically. This is in contrast to crimes that are harm people directly such as a mugging. Many white collar crimes are crimes committed at work. For example, someone may have engaged in food stamp fraud in the course of operating a small grocery store.

Many people who engage in white collar crimes are not familiar with laws pertaining to many criminal procedures. A person who is accused of this type of crime may not have engaged in any form of criminal activity before. This is why the person may be unfamiliar with many common types of procedures that are carried out during the course of a criminal investigation. Under these circumstances, it is best to understand what is going to happen before, during and after the conclusion of any such procedures.

The Search Warrant

One of the most common procedures that many law enforcement authorities use what is known as the search warrant. The search warrant is a procedure that is laid out in the very fabric of the founding of America. The government is allowed to have a search for your home, office or other private space. At the same time, all government officials must be done in accordance with highly specific rules. A search warrant has to have probable cause. It also has to indicate what the law enforcement officials are searching for and why. A search warrant can only be valid if it meets such criteria. If it does not, all items that are found during the search may be later subject to exclusion if they entered into a court as alleged evidence of a crime.

Probable Cause

Probable cause is a highly specific law term. It means there is reasonable cause to suspect there’s enough evidence to indicate that there’s evidence of a crime in a given place. The warrant must be sworn out in front of federal judge. The judge has the power to agree to the warrant or to deny it. The warrant also needs to be filled out in accordance with all necessary procedures. A single error may later invalidate the entire case. Probable cause may be in conjunction with other aspects of the investigation such as bringing a subpoena in a grand jury case or may be in regards to this specific instance.

The other rule that the search warrant has to follow is that it has to indicate exactly what areas the agents are authorized to examine in detail. For example, the search warrant may only apply to one house even if the homeowner has a vacation home and lots of rental properties. The other thing that the warrant must also indicate before it is carried out is exactly what the agents can take as a result of their search. Agents may not take items such as fiscal records or a computer if they were not allowed to do so by the terms of the warrant. Many search warrants are based on the element of surprise. Agents who execute the warrant hope to catch the suspect in alleged criminal activity and thus make it hard for them to muster a defense against any possible criminal charges.

This is why it is a good idea to hire a lawyer while a search warrant is going on. The lawyer can help clarify many aspects of this procedure. They can make sure that all agents are following the exact rules of the laws as laid out under the terms of the warrant. They can also help by providing the subject of the investigation with detailed legal advice about how to respond. As this goes on, you may be tempted to respond to questions. These questions can be a personal and confidential nature that may have information that might be used against you later in some way. The lawyer can offer you the advice you need right during the warrant process.

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