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Pre-Arrest Investigations in Maryland Federal Drug Cases

Before federal drug crimes are charged there is often an extensive investigation that is done by the government meaning that by the time someone is notified that they are under suspicion for a federal drug crime, months or potentially even years of investigating has likely already occurred. For this reason, it is imperative that a person retain an experienced Maryland federal drug attorney as soon as they are aware of their investigation. A lawyer will be able to discover what the investigation pertains to and ensure their rights are protected. To learn more or discuss your case, call and schedule a consultation today.

Investigation Process

In a federal drug case there are typically a variety of different people who investigators may come into contact with before reaching the high level distributor or manufacturer. These people may include confidential informants or other witnesses who are assisting them in putting a case together against a higher level drug official, and often continue for months, and in some cases years, before somebody at a high level is indicted or charged with a federal drug offense.

The length of time the federal government investigates before an arrest in drug cases depends on the extent of the case. Depending on the complexity of the case, these may be investigated for a couple of months or for several years. Additionally, when the authorities are working with multiple witnesses, many of those witnesses have cooperated with the government to get their own drug charges reduced.

Who Conducts the Drug Investigations for the Federal Government?

There are different agencies that conduct drug investigations in Maryland. These include local police at the state level, the FBI, the Central Intelligence Agency, and the Secret Service. These agencies focus on the evidence presented to them, and leads they established over the course of an investigation. Eventually, the agencies conduct surveillance and work with prosecutors to make the case before a judge regarding warrants for surveillance or searches of certain premises to indict someone with a federal drug crime.

Steps to Take if You Are Under Investigation

When a person learns the government is investigating them or their company, it is important to contact an experienced Maryland federal drug attorney immediately. When the government investigates someone for a drug related offense, the person may be charged in the near future. Usually, if someone is notified that they are being investigated by the federal government, it means the authorities have been watching or conducting an investigation for some period of time.

With charges potentially being brought against an individual, they could be arrested or charged at any moment. An attorney can be instrumental in reaching out to the prosecution to find out the type of investigation. The attorney can help the person gather evidence to potentially present to the prosecutor before they are charged to try to avert any charges if they are incorrectly being filed. The attorney can assist the individual with damage control and prepare bond paperwork so that if the person is arrested, the federal drug defense attorney has the appropriate documents necessary to present to a judge or a commissioner to secure the person’s release on bond after they are arrested to minimize their time behind bars.

Access To Information

Usually, access to an individual’s information only reaches as far as the judge’s warrant allows. In a federal drug investigation, the judge allows searches of homes, vehicles, and electronic communication devices.

Many people make the mistake of communicating criminal activity by text message or email. This is all stored on their phone and may go back a long way. These investigations often have extensive information about a person and their email and text message interactions. In some situations, even their phone calls are monitored depending on the kind of warrant used in the investigation.

Limiting Government Reach

When an attorney is aware of a request made by the government for a warrant, the attorney can file a motion opposing the government’s request. A judge may have a hearing to determine what is or is not appropriate for the warrant to cover.

Most of the time, an attorney is not aware of a request for a warrant until after it has been issued, but that does not mean it cannot be challenged. An attorney can file a document to challenge what was seized and have materials seized during the course of a warrant suppressed. The materials cannot be used in court even if the government seized them.

Police Warrants and Searches in Federal Drug Cases

When police agents knock on a person’s door and ask to speak with them or look around, the individual should ask them if they have a warrant. The person should never consent to a search of their premises even if they think the authorities will not find anything. The person does not know what the police are looking for and they are not required to tell the person. It is important that a person ask the police agents if they have a warrant. If they do have a warrant, the person has little to say about permitting the search. That position has been made. If the police do not have a warrant, the person is under no obligation to allow them to search their premises. The correct answer is to politely say no.

Monitoring Internet Activities

It is very easy for law enforcement agencies to get this information if someone is in a public space on the Internet. That means when someone uses a search engine or is in a chat room, those are considered public spaces on the Internet. Law enforcement agents do not have the ability to access what is in a person’s email without a warrant from the court. It is considered a search because the person has an expectation of privacy there.

Police Searches when You’re in Jail

When someone is in jail, they do not have many options to keep the authorities from searching. The individual should rely on their Maryland federal drug attorney to challenge the search if it was unlawful.

If the authorities come to search an individual’s home, no matter what time it is, the person should always politely tell the authorities that they do not consent to a search unless there is a warrant. If the authorities have a warrant, there is nothing the person can do about it, but if they do not have a warrant, the person should tell the authorities that they do not have consent to conduct that search.