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Virginia Federal Criminal Cases: Pre-Arrest Investigations

When the government believes someone has acted illegally, they will want to search a person’s home for evidence. In some cases, law enforcement officials do not necessarily want to let the person under suspicion know that they are being investigated, which is why they will conduct pre-arrest investigations. As a result, they will build a case before formally arresting someone in Virginia. If you believe you are under investigation for a federal crime, do not wait to get in contact with an experienced Virginia federal criminal lawyer.

Evidence in Virginia Federal Criminal Investigations

During a federal investigation, the government will have access to anything to which they can justify to the judge that they need access. They can get search warrants for a computer and for bank records. They can get search warrants for telephone records. They can get search warrants for really anything which the government feels is necessary to establish their case against you. The only standard which the government is required to meet for a judge to sign a search warrant is probable cause.

Limiting Government Access to Information

You do not generally find out about the existence of a search warrant until they are in the process of serving it. You are not permitted to obstruct service and execution of a search warrant in Virginia. The government getting and executing a warrant is not something that you can necessarily prevent. However, later in the case if ultimately you are charged, your attorney can absolutely review the search warrant and documentation surrounding the search warrant to attempt to challenge its validity. In other words, a Virginia federal criminal attorney can go back and ask the court to retroactively review the affidavit and any other information provided to the court to get the search warrant, and ask the court to find that the information was either incorrect, flawed, or simply not sufficient to support probable cause.

How to Respond to Government Searches

How you respond to the government when they want to search your home or belongings depends on why they want to conduct their search. However, if it appears as though Virginia law enforcement officials or federal law enforcement officials are investigating a crime, the most beneficial advice is always to very politely tell them that you are not interested in talking and you are going to go back inside the house, close the door and call a Virginia federal criminal attorney. If they want to wait around until you have had a chance to hire an attorney, then they are certainly more than welcome to do so, but you should never talk to the government on your own. You should never let them in unless they have a search warrant. I would say the vast majority of searches conducted by the police are conducted via consent of the person who is the target of the investigation. Almost always, people who consent to searches regret it down the line.

It does not matter whether you have nothing to hide. The fact is the government is seeking to intrude on your privacy and you have a constitutional expectation of privacy. If more people held the government to the standard required by the Fourth Amendment that says they are required to have a warrant before searching your home, then more police officers would take fewer liberties with our constitutionally granted rights.

If Police Request You Go to Police Station

Many times in federal criminal cases, clients will speak with police without their attorney because they don’t want officials to think they have anything to hide. The best evidence that the police had against someone is often a result of them speaking to the police. Even if you do not think you have done something wrong, the police likely think that you have, which is why they are speaking with and investigating you in the first place. If you talk to them, you are only going to add more fuel to their fire. Now, some people might think, “Well, if I tell them I do not want to say anything, it makes me look guilty.” That analysis is flawed because the police already think you are guilty. Refusing to talk to them is not going to make them think that you are guiltier. It is in your favor to call you Virginia federal criminal lawyer to discuss how to proceed.

How Law Enforcement Obtains Online Information

Law enforcement agencies cannot just access every single thing that you are doing online. However, if you are doing something illegal online, there are certain filters in place through commercially run internet providers which will flag certain types of illegal activity. The most common of these is child pornography. In a child pornography investigation, the majority of these investigations originate when an internet provider such as Verizon or Cox flags images or videos that are suspected to be child pornography. When they do, they notify law enforcement. Law enforcement gets this information and they will analyze it. If they agree that it appears to be child pornography, then that has in the past been sufficient information for government agents to get a search warrant.

However, there can be multiple reasons why such a search would appear in someones search history. Speak with a federal criminal lawyer in Virginia to discuss options.

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