August 2, 2019 • Jerod Gunsberg, Los Angeles Criminal Defense Lawyer
If you or a loved one recently received a federal search warrant, your head is probably still spinning from what just happened to you. This is especially true if you weren’t arrested and federal agents just showed up at your residence or office, seized computers, files, etc. and then left.
Make no mistake, just because you’re not arrested during the service of a search warrant, does not mean that you’re out of the woods. Here’s some answers to frequently asked questions about federal search warrants.
They served a search warrant but did not arrest me. Why?
It’s quite common for a search warrant to be served without anyone getting arrested. Federal search warrants are used in ongoing investigations to gather evidence against potential targets of an investigation. Once the authorities and prosecutors believe they have enough evidence to bring a case, they will present the information to a grand jury to obtain an indictment.
Should I call the federal agents to find out whether I am going to be indicted?
No. Do not do that. A lawyer needs to be the one who makes contact with law enforcement.
A grand jury indictment could be months away, which is why it is so important to immediately retain competent federal criminal defense counsel to begin assessing your position. The worst possible thing you can do is talking to federal agents your own.
Can I challenge the search warrant and get my property back?
You may think the government had no grounds to serve a search warrant. Unfortunately, there’s no grounds to challenge the validity of a search warrant until after a case is filed. At that point, an attorney will analyze the circumstances in which the warrant was issued and determine whether the seizure of the evidence is valid.
As for your property? You’re not getting it back any time soon. This is part of an investigation of an ongoing case, so unless an attorney can negotiate a return of some of the property, federal agents are under no obligation to return anything to you while the case is pending.
So what can a lawyer do for me?
A lawyer will figure out what is going on. He or she will talk to the feds, see if there’s any negotiating that can be done, assess a strategy going forward and then execute that strategy. Just whatever you do, be sure that your criminal defense attorney has experience in handling federal cases.