Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Search Warrants & Allegations of Computer Crime

A search warrant is essentially a court order that authorizes law enforcement to conduct a search of a particular place, thing, or person. Search warrants are issued after a law enforcement agent demonstrates to a neutral and detached magistrate that there is probable cause to justify a search and seizure.

As a criminal defense lawyer, I often receive calls from citizens who have had their homes searched and property removed. Sometimes law enforcement conducts the search, seizes the property, but does not make an arrest at that time. This is especially common in cases where data storage devices such as cell phones and computers are removed from a residence. If law enforcement is searching for evidence of a computer or internet crime, or they have probable cause to believe that evidence of a crime is going to be found on a computer, they will often seize the computers but not effectuate an arrest at that time. Typically, the computers and other data storage devices are subject to a forensic examination by law enforcement. This process is often conducted pursuant to the terms of the search warrant itself. Forensic examinations can take time and law enforcement may wait until all evidence is extracted and reviewed before determining what criminal charges, if any, are warranted.

If you, or someone you know, have had a search warrant executed and property seized, you may have questions concerning your rights and the process going forward. You may also want to know what steps, if any, can or should be taken. Please feel free to contact Cleveland, Ohio criminal defense lawyer Ron Frey for a free initial consultation at: (440) 537-0299.