If investigators have gone to the trouble of getting a search warrant, it’s safe to assume that they intend to bring charges that will disrupt the company and the lives of many people that work in the company. The warrant differs from getting a subpoena, which authorizes the investigators to obtain documents or recordings voluntarily. To obtain a search warrant, the investigator must persuade a judge that the government has probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime exists in the location. The target of the warrant will not know that the investigator is communicating with the judge. As such, the target cannot work to defend against the argument that the investigator will make to the judge.
To show probable cause, the investigator may rely upon evidence gathered through an affidavit, recited under oath, that shows the reason(s) the government believes the target has participated in a crime. The warrant must define places to be searched, the people the investigators want to search, and the types of things the investigators wants to seize.
According to Rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure, once a judge issues the warrant, the investigators have ten days to serve the warrant. In most cases, the officers show up between 6:00 am and 10:00 pm. The agents must provide the company with a copy of the warrant, and also with an inventory list of everything they’ve seized.
Investigators exercise search warrants when they want to catch a company and its team by surprise. A company can mitigate this disruption through appropriate training and preparation at various stages of the investigation—including, before, during, and after. Our team at Compliance Mitigation provides that specialized training.