FBI at home with search warrant your rights Federal Attorney | Rossen Law Firm (2023)

Federal Law Enforcement at your House with a Search Warrant?: Federal Attorney Explains your Rights

Law enforcement knocking on your door is never a pleasant experience. You might feel your heart pounding, maybe your palms are sweaty or perhaps you’re even in complete shock – why in the world are police at your door?

You do not have to allow federal law enforcement officers to search you or your home unless they have specific court orders or warrants.

If federal law enforcement comes to your home, chances are there is a serious situation going on – whether you know why they’re there or not. Even if you’re not sure why law enforcement is at your door and you have “nothing to hide,” you should be very cautious and know about your rights to remain silent and your rights to an attorney.

Your rights when you encounter federal law enforcement:

  • You have the right to remain silent. Whether you are stopped by federal law enforcement, FBI, immigration or state police officers – you have the right to remain silent (whether you are a U.S. citizen or not, you have this right).
  • You do NOT have to identify yourself to federal law enforcement. You do not have to identify yourself to FBI agents or immigration agents. If you don’t have ID documents, you can assert your right to remain silent. (In Florida, however, you are expected to identify yourself to a Florida state police officer).
  • You do NOT have to give police permission to search. Officers can only search you if they suspect you have a weapon, OR if they have a warrant. Do not resist physically, but you have the right to verbally refuse a search. We recommend that you don’t ever consent to a search.
  • If ICE agents ask for your name or to ‘show your papers,’ you do not have to. It is your right to say no – regardless of the reason.
  • If you’re arrested – you have the right to know why.

If you are questioned by federal law enforcement:

  • Keep calm and don’t argue.
  • Even if you’re completely innocent, and even if the police are violating your rights – don’t argue, stay calm.
  • Ask “Am I free to leave?,” if an officer says yes, you can calmly and quietly leave.
  • You have the right to remain silent and cannot be punished for refusing to answer questions. If you want to remain silent, you must tell the police or federal law enforcement officer out loud.

Does the federal law enforcement have the right to search you or your home?

If Federal law enforcement is at your home, you don’t have to let them search your home unless they have a warrant.

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If federal law enforcement comes to your house with an active search warrant, they have the right to search the property that is specifically listed in the court order.

If federal law enforcement wants to search additional belongings beyond what is listed in the order, you have the right to decline the search.

If the officers say that they have a warrant or court order to search your home, you can ask them to pass it under the door or to hold it to the window for you to review.

(Video) Orlando Attorney Refuses Police Request to Search Car

What can a search warrant allow?

  • The search warrant ONLY allows officers to search the address specifically listed on the order.
  • Officers are only allowed to search for items listed in the order.
  • An arrest warrant allows officers to enter the home where the person listed lives IF they believe that person is inside.
  • Even with a court order or warrant, you have the right to remain silent.

Do you have the requirement to talk to the federal law enforcement when they come to your house?

NO! If federal officers or the FBI show up at your door you do NOT have to speak with them. Even if they have a warrant to search your home – you still do not need to speak to the federal officers.

Federal law enforcement officers do not have the right to force you to talk. You are only expected to identify yourself to state police officers and deputies – but not FBI agents or ICE agents.

You do not need to answer any other questions or give the federal law enforcement any additional information.

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Simply inform the officer that you would like to use your right to remain silent.

What do I do if federal officers come to my house?

Warrant or not, remain silent. DO NOT consent to any kind of search or cooperation if they don’t have a warrant.

If federal officers want to speak to you or search you or your home, inform them that you would like to assert your right to remain silent and your right to an attorney. Even if you have no idea why they’re at your home, and even if you know you’re innocent – do not speak to federal officers without an attorney present.

(Video) Search Warrants, the Attorney-Client Privilege, and Federal Criminal Rule 41(g)

If the FBI or federal officers come to your home, contact a federal defense attorney as soon as possible. Again – whether you’re innocent or not – you could end up in trouble with the federal government quickly if you don’t protect your rights and seek legal counsel.

Free Federal Government Investigations Defense Consultation in South Florida

We take on any type of Federal Government Investigations case. Our federal criminal defense attorneys are well-trained and know exactly how to protect your rights and fight your case to ensure your Federal Government Investigations case has the best possible outcome that affects the rest of your life the least.

We offer FREE strategy sessions so you know how we’ll work to get the best possible result on your case for you.

(Video) Lawyer: What to Do When Cops DEMAND Your Guns

Give us a call today to schedule an appointment for a free consultation with a federal attorney:



Why would a federal agent come to your house? ›

If government agents come to your home with a search warrant, it means there is a federal criminal investigation underway and the authorities investigating the crime have reason to believe there is evidence of the crime in your home.

Does the FBI come to your house? ›

You do not have to allow federal law enforcement officers to search you or your home unless they have specific court orders or warrants. If federal law enforcement comes to your home, chances are there is a serious situation going on – whether you know why they're there or not.

How long can the FBI investigate you? ›

Statute of Limitations in Federal Crime Cases

So if you have still not been charged after the time set by the statute of limitations, the investigation is effectively over. For most federal crimes, the statute of limitations is five years.

Can the FBI go into your house without a warrant? ›

But the police or FBI may become suspicious if you refuse. The right to be free from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” The Fourth Amendment protects your privacy. Without a warrant, no government agent can search your home or office without your consent, and you have the right to refuse to let him or her in.

How do you know if the feds are investigating you? ›

One of the most common signs that you are under federal investigation is if agents from the FBI, IRS, or another federal agency show up at your door unexpectedly. They may come to ask you questions about a case they are working on or serve you with a search warrant.

What does it mean when the FBI comes to your house? ›

If agents from the FBI or another federal agency show up at your door with a search warrant, that means the federal government believes you were involved in or have information about a federal crime and the agents were able to convince a judge that there is evidence of the alleged crime in your home.

Do FBI agents do surveillance? ›

The FBI's organized crime investigations frequently use undercover operations, court-authorized electronic surveillance, informants and cooperating witnesses, and consensual monitoring.

Do federal agents contact you by phone? ›

U.S. government agencies (such as USCIS, the IRS, FBI, etc.) will not call you and ask for money, or threaten to arrest you.

Can the FBI question you without a lawyer? ›

You must go with the officer, but you do not have to answer questions until you consult an attorney. If you are detained, you should ask for an attorney and remain silent.

How serious is federal investigation? ›

The federal criminal investigation process culminates with an arrest. Once you are arrested for a federal crime, you are already in a very serious situation. Federal investigators don't just think that you committed a crime; they also believe that they have enough evidence to convict you.

What triggers an FBI investigation? ›

If a crime is brought to the attention of federal authorities, whether by a victim of the crime or a witness to it (e.g., a bank robbery), a federal law enforcement agency will undertake an investigation to determine whether a federal offense was committed and, if so, who committed it.

How long does it take the feds to build a case? ›

A federal investigation can take a long time. In some cases, agents may investigate a case for years before bringing any federal criminal charges.

Can the FBI seize your property? ›

Federal law enforcement agencies seize property, and the property is held until the court determines it should be returned to the defendant or if forfeiture proceedings may begin. Seizure is especially common with assets that might be evidence in a criminal investigation.

Will the FBI call you about a warrant? ›

Will the FBI call you about a warrant? The public is reminded that the FBI does not call private citizens threatening arrest or requesting money and to never give out unsolicited requests for personal information to callers that you don't know.

Who can enter your home without permission? ›

People with 'Power of Entry' are allowed to enter your home without permission. Such people include police officers, fire service workers, ambulance workers, some enforcement agents, and local authority trading standards officers. But, they can only enter your home in specific circumstances.

Can the Feds see your messages? ›

It depends on rulings made by state and federal courts. Only Ohio, Florida, and the First Circuit Court (which includes Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Rhode Island) have decisively ruled that police need to get a warrant before reading your text messages.

What should you not do when under federal investigation? ›

With that in mind, here are five things you should not do if you're under federal investigation.
  • Fail to Hire a Federal Criminal Defense Lawyer. ...
  • Fail to Enforce Your Rights. ...
  • Lie to a Federal Investigator or Prosecutor. ...
  • Discuss Your Case Online or with Friends. ...
  • Destroy Evidence.
Aug 20, 2019

How do the feds track you? ›

How does the FBI track your phone? StingRays are used by law enforcement agencies to track people's movements, and intercept and record conversations, names, phone numbers and text messages from mobile phones. Their use entails the monitoring and collection of data from all mobile phones within a target area.

Does the FBI interview your family? ›

A Series of Interviews

In particular, investigators will perform numerous interviews with your former employers, neighbors and landlords, among others. In some cases, they also will interview relatives, particularly those who are not U.S. citizens.

Do FBI agents spend time with their family? ›

Special agents are always on call to protect their country and may be transferred at any time, based on the needs of the FBI. This is definitely not a nine-to-five career. Although the work is challenging and exciting, special agents still have the opportunity to spend quality time with their families.

What does the FBI do with seized property? ›

In cases which are entirely federal, the property is forfeited and either placed in use (such as a vehicle) or sold with the proceeds going into the federal treasury.

Does FBI agents watch your phone? ›

Short answer, no. The only reason the FBI would ever “watch” your phone would be during a wire tap which includes a long legal process to get approved, sufficient evidence that illegal activity is occurring, and everyone involved must follow strict rules and guidelines as to what they can and cannot listen to.

Can the FBI see me through my camera? ›

Is the FBI watching me through my phone camera? No. Even if someone sets your phone up to do so, the volume of the data send will be recorded by your phone and the internet service provider. Coming back to FBI, no, they won't do so, they are busy listening to your phone calls.

Can FBI agents see me through my camera? ›

No. FBI Agents follow the law just like any other law enforcement agency and no law enforcement agency would be tapping into your computer camera.

How does the FBI track your phone? ›

StingRays are used by law enforcement agencies to track people's movements, and intercept and record conversations, names, phone numbers and text messages from mobile phones. Their use entails the monitoring and collection of data from all mobile phones within a target area.

Can FBI agents tell you they are FBI agents? ›

Can you tell people you're in the FBI? No cop or agent is required to tell anyone what they do for a living unless it is required in the course of their official duties.

Can federal agents compel you to talk to them? ›

No branch or member of the government, from the US Attorney's Office to the various Federal agencies, can force you to speak to them in your home, your of-fice, their office or anywhere else. You always have the right to speak to counsel before speaking with them.

Does the FBI work with lawyers? ›

The bureau employs attorneys, paralegals, legal administrative specialists and legal instrument examiners. Attorneys work in FBI headquarters and field offices, providing legal advice on investigations, lawsuits and criminal cases, and assessing the legal implications of new law enforcement technologies.

Can the FBI record without consent? ›

Federal Law

Federal wiretapping laws are enforced by the FBI and U.S. Attorney's office. It is a federal crime to wiretap or to use a machine to capture the communications of others without court approval, unless one of the parties has given their prior consent.

Should you talk to the FBI without a lawyer? ›

Do Not Speak to FBI Agents Without an Attorney Present. You have an absolute right to refuse to speak with the FBI, and you should always consult with a criminal defense attorney before speaking with law enforcement or consenting to a warrantless search of your home.

Is it hard to beat a federal case? ›

Winning a case against federal prosecutors is challenging, and it can be tough to build a strong case in your defense. However, with help from an experienced criminal defense lawyer, beating a federal drug conspiracy charge is possible.

What would makes the feds pick up a case? ›

Federal law enforcement agencies will investigate a crime only if there is reason to believe that the crime violated federal law. Second: The nature of the federal offense may determine which agency undertakes the investigation. Not every federal law enforcement agency has the responsibility to investigate every crime.

What is the most serious federal crime? ›

Treason is considered the most serious criminal offense that a person can commit against the federal government.

How long do the feds watch you? ›

How long do the feds watch you? For most federal crimes, the statute of limitations is five years. Bank fraud has a statute of limitations of ten years. Immigration violations and arson are also subject to a ten year limit.

What are 4 things that the FBI investigates? ›

The FBI, the lead agency for enforcing civil rights law, aggressively investigates hate crime, color of law abuses by public officials, human trafficking and involuntary servitude, and freedom of access to clinic entrances violations.

What are the stages of FBI investigation? ›

The General Crimes Guidelines authorize three graduated levels of investigative activity. These activities are the checking of initial leads, preliminary inquiries, and full investigations.

What is the success rate of federal cases? ›

Currently federal prosecutors tout above a 95% conviction rate. This is primarily due to the fact that most cases never make it to trial.

What happens when a case goes federal? ›

Federal crimes, however, are not investigated by state police. Instead, these crimes are investigated by federal agents, such as the DEA or the FBI. They will make an investigation and arrest, often with the aid of the state police. Once the arrest is made, court proceedings can begin.

How do you know if the feds are building a case on you? ›

The most common signs of being under investigation include talking to your friends, employees acting abnormally, and even an investigator leaving a business card on your door. Oftentimes, if the DOJ or FBI brings you under its investigation 'claws,' they may not confirm that you are a target.

Can the FBI seize your bank account? ›

Law enforcement can seize any type of property. They can seize physical property like cars, boats, weapons, cash, drugs, drug paraphernalia, houses, and other real property. They may also seize non-physical property such as bank accounts, royalties, and proceeds from crimes.

What crimes do the FBI deal with? ›

The FBI has divided its investigations into a number of programs, such as domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights, organized crime/drugs, white-collar crime, violent crimes and major offenders, and applicant matters.

Which property can be seized? ›

Assets that credits can seize include:
  • Bank accounts.
  • Investment accounts.
  • Inheritances.
  • Assets owned by your spouse.
  • Personal homes (different from state to state)
  • Rental properties.
  • Vehicles.
  • Business equipment.
Dec 2, 2022

Can the FBI see my search history? ›

Can the FBI recover search history? Answer: Not without a warrant. Under the new House amendment, called the Lofgren-Davidson amendment, the FBI would first have to obtain a warrant before accessing a citizen's Web browsing and search information.

Why would the FBI call my phone? ›

If so, that was a scam. The Federal Trade Commission (FTC) recently issued a warning about interactions like these. Specifically, scammers impersonate Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) agents, threatening callers who do not fulfill “unpaid judgments” over the phone with arrest or other consequences.

Would the FBI text you? ›

These text messages are false and the photograph of the credentials is not real. The FBI defines this type of scam as government impersonation fraud in which cyber criminals threaten to extort victims with physical or financial harm or the release of sensitive data.

Can police take your phone without permission? ›

Police Authorities directly cannot tap your phone, only home secretary to the state government is the authorized officer to give permission to the police then the police can intercept. As stated by you in the absence of any complaint, the action of the police is absolutely illegal and sheer abuse of power.

Can you legally stop someone from entering your house? ›

The remedies which are available to you if anyone trespasses or encroaches upon your property are to get an injunction order for stopping that person from making any encroachment or trespassing upon your property, and you can also claim for the damages which you have suffered due to that encroachment or trespass.

Can I sue someone for entering my property? ›

If you wish to pursue it further, you could lodge a civil suit (a lawsuit alleging violations of civil law by the defendant) against the neighbour for nuisance, damages and trespass. However, before proceeding this far, you should seek legal advice as any action could be costly.

What do federal agents investigate? ›

The FBI has divided its investigations into a number of programs, such as domestic and international terrorism, foreign counterintelligence, cyber crime, public corruption, civil rights, organized crime/drugs, white-collar crime, violent crimes and major offenders, and applicant matters.

How would a federal agent contact you? ›

An official FBI special agent will never provide you with a badge number or telephone number to attempt to verify their identity without additional verification. Instead, they will direct you to the official FBI website www.FBI.gov to locate the local field office's telephone number and encourage you to make a call.

What does a federal agent do? ›

Special agents bring their skills, compassion, and integrity to stay ahead of threats, uphold the law, defend civil rights, and protect innocent people. They seek out cybercrime, infiltrate organized crime rings, and investigate terrorists.

Can the government come to your house? ›

Most property owners are aware that the government can take their property for a public purpose (California Constitution Section 19 (a) "Private property may be taken or damaged for a public use and only when just compensation, ascertained by a jury unless waived, has first been paid to, or into court for, the owner.

How does the FBI tap your phone? ›

If a federal agency like the FBI or DEA wants to tap a phone it has to apply for a wiretap. A wiretap is a term that explains what the agency intends to do. Before wireless communications, agents would physical cut into a wire or “tap” the wire that carried a conversation from one phone to another.

What do you do if the FBI contacts you? ›

right to consult with an attorney.

You should write down the name, agency and telephone number of the person who calls or visits you. If an FBI agent or police officer asks to speak to you, tell him or her that you want to consult with an attorney first.

Do FBI agents make arrests? ›

In the U.S. and its territories, FBI special agents may make arrests for any federal offense committed in their presence or when they have reasonable grounds to believe that the person to be arrested has committed, or is committing, a felony violation of U.S. laws.

Is FBI agent higher than police? ›

No. State and local law enforcement agencies are not subordinate to the FBI, and the FBI does not supervise or take over their investigations. Instead, the investigative resources of the FBI and state and local agencies are often pooled in a common effort to investigate and solve the cases.

What things can the government not do to you? ›

The government cannot take away your life, liberty, or property without following the law. 15. The government cannot take your private property from you for public use unless it pays to you what your property is worth.

Does the government read your texts? ›

Can the government see your private messages? Under the law, the government does need a warrant to access the content of electronic communications that are 180 days old or less, but doesn't need one for older emails.

What is it called when the government Cannot take your property? ›

The Fifth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution has a “takings clause,” stating private property can't be taken for public use “without just compensation.” That means the government must pay full market value for your land.


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