DC Federal Drug Post Arrest Investigations
Due to the severity of federal drug charges, it is important that if you are accused, you consult with a lawyer as soon as possible to discuss your case. A federal drug attorney in DC can help to protect your rights and assist you in navigating through the legal system as you face post-arrest investigations for your offense.
When federal agents execute a search warrant, the warrant generally covers electronic devices that might contain evidence of the crime. When an agent applies for a search warrant, they must get a judge to sign and approve what they want to search for and seize if they find it, which covers a host of electronic devices.
When agents execute a search warrant at an individual’s home or at that person’s business, they are most likely looking for the person’s phone, iPad, laptop, and desktop computer. At that point, there is not much anyone can do to keep agents from taking those electronic devices, but there are preparations they could take before that point.
When someone knows they are in a federal drug post-arrest investigation DC, they should perform a backup of files and make copies of their electronic devices and keep them in a place that is not their home or business. Agents can raid someone’s business by taking all of their laptops, desktop computers, and the majority of the files they need to run their business.
A person could ask the agents to copy everything and get it back to them as soon as possible. However, that can be two or three months down the road and possibly as long as a year. At that point, that person is trying to recreate the files necessary to run their business. To prevent that from happening, they should keep a backup copy of their electronic devices in a place that is not their home or business. The same is true for their laptop and phone.
Right to Refuse Searches
The other issue in DC federal drug post-arrest investigations that is sometimes raised occurs when agents come into someone’s home or business and seize their laptop, phone, or computer. A person has the right to refuse unlawful searches and seizures. A person is under no obligation to provide passwords to the agents. They should not engage in any interviews with the agents. They should not say anything beyond their name to the agents at any time and they should not provide passwords. When they retain a lawyer, that is an issue for their lawyer to negotiate.
Under no circumstance should someone agree to the search of their electronic devices. During a search or arrest, the agent may ask them if they consent to the search of their phone, laptop, hard drive, or other electronic devices. When they refuse, the agent may tell them that if they have nothing to hide, they should let the agent search their electronic devices, which is wrong.
Under no circumstances should a person agree to these kinds of searches in their post-arrest investigation. Even when someone thinks there is nothing on their electronic devices that could incriminate them, they have no idea how it might be used by the government, correctly or incorrectly, to try to implicate them in something and need to be aware of their right to refuse in the event of an investigation.
Agents could be looking for many different things on electronic devices when conducting searches, depending on the type of investigation. They could be looking for a person’s contacts, emails, text messages, or specific Excel spreadsheets on their computer. Sometimes, agents are not looking for anything specific, but they are just looking for evidence of criminal activity related to the investigation, which can cover a broad range.
Whatever information agents find on someone’s electronic devices could lead them in a different direction. There is no way to know what use might be made of that information. It might give agents the wrong impression about something that leads them to make an incorrect conclusion about that person’s role in criminal activity. That is all the more reason for someone to not voluntarily give up the information on their electronic devices.
Government investigators can and will go to foreign countries to investigate a person when they are charged with a crime outside of the United States. Federal agents are often stationed outside the United States where they do their investigations. An attorney can travel to a number of foreign nations to conduct their own investigation, once they learn that federal agents are investigating their client in a particular country.
Unlike many state level drug cases, where the investigation stops once a person is arrested, agents in DC often continue to investigate federal drug cases post-arrest, after the indictment, and even while a case is in trial.
A trial is made up of three parts. During the first part, the government goes first and presents their case. That is called the case–in-chief. Next, the defense may present its own case. There is no obligation to do so, but when the defense does present its case, the government can present a rebuttal case and can present more evidence to attempt to disprove or refute the defense’s case. If they find anything that can throw doubt on that claim, because it is a rebuttal case, they likely will present that evidence in trial.
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