What To Do First If Federal Agents Come to Your Home With a Search Warrant
Having a search warrant executed at your house is horrible. It feels like an invasion of your most private space – because that’s exactly what it is. The agents come into your home, they control your movements, and they show that they have the power to go wherever they want, to look through whatever they want of yours, and that you have no power to stop them.
It’s a terrifying experience that can shatter your belief that you’re safe in your own home.
When a search warrant is executed at your house, it raises the panic in your system. You feel the threat viscerally and want to know what to do. On this page, we’ll give you some guidance on what you should do in the hours and days after a search.
Collect What Information You Can
The agents will likely leave with you the warrant and their business cards. You can learn a little just from looking at who the agency is that’s doing the investigating. If the agent is from the IRS, you can know there’s a tax component to the case. If the agent is from an Office of Inspector General associated with a government agency, you know that the government is looking at something connected with that agency.
Perhaps more importantly, though, is that when you hire an attorney, that attorney can call the agent and, through the agent, talk to the prosecutor on the case. Without that information, it can be tough to hunt down who is working on the case and open a line of communication.
Hire a Lawyer
You probably know this, but now is also a good time to find a lawyer. Please visit this page for some thoughts on how to find a lawyer who is best for your situation.
Hiring a lawyer at this point can be useful for a few reasons. First, your lawyer may be able to talk to the prosecutor and figure out what they’re looking at. It might be that those conversations can help by dissuading the government from bringing charges or, if they decide to go forward with charges, working it out so that you don’t have to be arrested and dragged from your family but, rather, can simply report to court.
A lawyer can also help by starting to work on the case. If you know enough to know what the case is about, then some investigation can begin to put you in a better position if the government goes forward with charges. Often the government takes years to investigate a case. At the same time, the defense sometimes has to get up to speed for trial in a matter of a few short months. That playing field can be leveled if you start early enough.
A lawyer can also work with you to be in the best position possible if you do get charged. Maybe there’s something you’re doing that the government thinks is a crime. A lawyer can help you see that and stop doing it – preventing things from getting worse. Or maybe there’s a way to prepare for the charges that you don’t see. Sometimes, if a person committed a crime because of a mental health problem, a lawyer can get the person in treatment so that later you can talk about how punishment doesn’t need to be meted out – or can be less severe if it is.
Finally, hiring a lawyer can give you a person to go to when you have questions to ask. That can be tremendously useful. The more you know, the less you worry.