Police Raid – Fairfax Criminal Lawyer on Handling Search Warrant Hurdles
Police raid time is filled with landmines, says Fairfax criminal lawyer
Police raid activity is filled with adrenaline by police and their suspects, civilians being taken by surprise, and the moment of truth of helping to save one’s skin by asserting one’s right to remain silent and to a lawyer, or to do the opposite, thus inviting the earth to crumble below your feet. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I have repeatedly seen the benefit of doing the former and sometimes severe damage from doing any differently than that.
How will a Virginia police raid start at my home?
A Virginia police raid of one’s home typically begins with the issuance of a search warrant by a magistrate, who does not even have to be a lawyer nor to have attended law school (Va. Code §§ 19.2-56 and 19.2-37) often involves shock and awe surprise, so as to reduce the risk of violence by the home occupants and the risk of efforts by residents to flush drugs down toilets and otherwise to hide evidence of any criminal activity. This can include executing the search warrant when the occupants are sleeping and groggy. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that the default appellate court jurisprudence for a police raid is that police need to first knock and announce their presence before executing a search warrant, but the federal Supreme Court recognizes circumstances where a no-knock search warrant may be issued, and will not automatically require suppression of evidence merely because the knock and announce rule is violated. Hudson v. U.S., 547 U.S. 586 (2006); Lewis v. Virginia, 26 Va.App. 113 (1997); and ” Gladden v. Virginia, 11 Va.App. 595 (1991).
Should I stay or should I go when police make me free to leave during a search?
A police raid / search warrant execution does not automatically mean you will be arrested on the spot, or even need to stay on the premises during the search. Ask the police if you are free to leave. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that your staying may be at your own peril in terms of your having trouble asserting your right to remain silent, and your body language or eyes revealing where police should search for evidence of any crime. By telling you that you are free to leave, police generally are protecting themselves against advising you of your Miranda right to remain silent, and to an attorney. Some people do not want to leave a police raid out of concern about protecting their property. That property protection during a police raid will be worth little if the result of remaining on the premises is a lengthy conviction that keeps one away from his or her property for years to come.
Must I assist police with the execution of a search warrant?
Assisting police with the execution of a search warrant / police raid exceeds the proper purpose and scope of a search warrant, and clashes with one’s Fifth Amendment right to remain silent with police. In some instances, a search warrant might mandate disclosing one’s cellphone password or combination for a home safe. Without my advising resistance to such a command, such resistance does enable a lawyer to challenge the validity of such a search warrant requirement in the light of the Fifth Amendment and the differing approaches to this issue in the various appellate courts nationwide.
Should I consult with a criminal defense lawyer if a search warrant is executed at my home? Yes
If a search warrant has been executed at your home, you might benefit greatly by consulting with a qualified lawyer about the police raid. That lawyer can advise you about protecting yourself from there, and can send law enforcement a letter of representation that the lawyer represents you, to reduce the risk that you will communicate further with the police if they contact you subsequent to the execution of the search warrant.
How long will it take for me to be prosecuted, if the police raid yielded evidence of criminal activity?
Not every police raid will yield a prosecution. As a Fairfax criminal lawyer, I know that not all prosecutions will start soon after a police warrant execution, rather than later, particularly when police want time first for a chemist to test for allegedly illegal drugs, and for computer forensics experts to search for possible child pornography. By having a qualified lawyer identified for defense in the event the case gets prosecuted, that can give you peace of mind and, more importantly, possible peace of liberty.
Challenging the issuance and execution of a search warrant
The mere issuance of a search warrant for a police raid does not automatically mean that the search warrant has been validly issued under the Fourth Amendment of the Constitution, with probable cause to believe that evidence of criminal activity will be revealed by executing the search warrant. The criminal defense lawyer needs to challenge the search warrant and move to suppress the evidence obtained pursuant to any search.
Fairfax criminal lawyer pursues the necessary Constitutional and evidentiary challenges in defending people charged with Virginia felony, misdemeanor and DUI offenses. Call 703-383-1100 to schedule a free in-person confidential consultation with Virginia criminal lawyer Jon Katz about your court-pending case.