How do you know you are under investigation for a federal offense?
One way you would know for sure is if federal agents show up at your door or office with a search warrant.
At that point, you have no choice but to comply with the warrant and allow the officers to search your property.
This can be downright frightening. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind that if federal agents are there with a search warrant, they are looking for evidence.
It doesn’t mean agents have already made their case against you.
If you have been served with a search warrant, it’s essential to act fast and secure the help of a criminal defense attorney to help you navigate this and every stage of your case.
You will need a lawyer with experience in federal criminal cases who will aggressively defend your innocence and fight for your rights.
The longer you wait to contact a top-notch attorney, the harder it will be to get a good result.
However, you can benefit from hiring an excellent defense lawyer whatever stage you are in your case – even post-conviction.
How Federal Search Warrants Work
Federal search warrants work like state search warrants. An agent must convince a judge of what’s called “probable cause.”
This means there is a reason to suspect criminal activity may be happening at your office or home and that a search of one of these properties would yield evidence of illegal activity.
To convince a judge, the federal agent has to submit an affidavit.
An affidavit is a report delivered in writing to a judge. It contains descriptions of the agent’s or other citizens’ observations that have given rise to a suspicion that a crime is occurring or has occurred.
A judge’s job is to decide whether the affidavit does indeed establish probable cause. This is one area in which a federal case can be challenged.
Your lawyer can argue that the affidavit did not establish probable cause and argue against its validity.
Any evidence that was gathered through an invalid search can’t be used against you in court. Federal agents can’t conduct a search without a warrant unless you give consent.
You should never give your consent to a search without first talking to your lawyer. Innocent people, or people eager to prove that they aren’t guilty of anything serious, may consent to a search when they believe it will help to prove their innocence.
Often, the opposite is true, and agents can find something to use against you.
What Can Federal Agents Take During Their Search?
Federal search warrants outline very specifically what agents can search for, and where.
For example, a warrant might specify a particular area of your house – like your home office. Agents cannot search any other area while they are at your house.
A warrant may specify a particular item or type of item the agents can search for. They can’t search for something other than what is specified.
However, if agents find some illegal property that isn’t what they are searching for, they may be able to seize it legally.
Warrants can also be written for a search of a person, in which case agents will be limited to that person unless they have probable cause to search someone else at the scene.
However, be aware that even onlookers can be taken aside and questioned, and even searched for a weapon based on this idea of reasonable suspicion.
It will be up to your federal defense lawyer to find out if your rights have been violated during a search and seizure.
Depending on the case agents are trying to build, they may take your computer or some other electronic device. Or they may take paperwork, including things like your passport.
Your federal criminal lawyer may be able to get your personal property back before the conclusion of your case in some cases.
Federal Criminal Attorney in Michigan
If you have already been the subject of a search and seizure in a federal investigation, the sooner you call a federal criminal defense attorney, the better, especially if you spoke with federal agents.
Call my office today for your free consultation. We will go over everything you said, how many agents were there, and what they searched and seized.
These and any other details in your case will help you build your defense and get you on the road to victory.