Search Warrants and Seizure of Property
If your business has been implicated in criminal activity, the authorities will often issue a search warrant to enter your premises and seize your property to gather material for their investigation. This can be a hugely disruptive and damaging process for your company, which is why it is vital to seek professional legal advice from JMW Solicitors.
At JMW, our highly experienced business crime solicitors can ensure you are fully prepared for how this search process will unfold. With our guidance, you can ensure that your organisation’s rights are upheld and that the officers responsible are acting within the proper guidelines.
Property searches, dawn raids and seizures can be enormously disruptive to a business, which is why it is so important to seek legal guidance as soon as possible. By getting the right advice, you can ensure that the right procedures are being followed and that the interests of your business are receiving the proper protection.
For expert legal advice on search warrants and seizure of property, contact JMW Solicitors today by calling 0345 872 6666. You can also fill in our online enquiry form to request a call back at your convenience.
How JMW Can Help
We have advised a wide range of businesses on search warrants and the seizure of property, providing tailored advice and guidance on how this process works, and how to contest any instances of these procedures being overridden. We have extensive knowledge of this area of the law and a track record of success in ensuring our clients' rights are upheld.
We can help your business in the following ways:
- Advising your company on how the law works around search warrants and the seizure of property, including any rights that exist to protect your business interests
- Preparing you for a search and seizure visit and advising you of what to expect
- Helping you to prepare and collate documentation and other material that may be requested by the police
- Providing legal representation for you or your business during an interview under caution
- Advising you on whether you may have grounds to appeal against the search warrant or the seizure of any particular property
If your company is facing an imminent search or dawn raid, it is advisable to seek legal guidance and representation as soon as possible to ensure that you have taken every sensible step and precaution to protect your own interests.
We offer an initial free consultation for all business crime cases, so give us a call today if you are in this position.
When can search warrants be legally issued?
Search warrants are issued by the courts to help the police and other authorities to enter the premises of individuals and businesses accused of involvement in criminal activity. These warrants make it possible for authorities to seize property that may aid their investigation, but that the owner may not be willing to surrender on their own.
In order for the police to obtain a search warrant for your property, they must be able to convince a magistrate of the following:
- That they have reasonable grounds to suspect that an indictable offence has been committed
- That the premises are likely to contain evidence or material that will aid their investigation and any subsequent trial
- That searching these premises is likely to be difficult or impossible without the use of a search warrant
Once the warrant has been issued, officers and investigators must adhere to the following criteria:
- All evidence recovered must be directly relevant to the trial, and cannot include legally privileged materials
- The property seized must be authorised for seizure from specific locations
- The search should be carried out within a specific time limit, usually within three months of the warrant being issued
- The search must be carried out at a reasonable hour unless there is reason to believe this would affect the efficiency of the operation
- A list of the items seized must be provided, allowing the property owner to check this against a list of the items removed
- Any documents seized must be copied and returned within two days
If you feel that any of these procedures have not been followed, you may be able to contest the search order or file a complaint. You should consult a solicitor for advice on how to do this.
How should companies prepare for a search and seizure visit?
If your premises are set to be searched, there are various steps you can take to ensure you are able to prepare and respond accordingly:
- Nominate a person to liaise with the officer in charge of the visit
- Ask the officers in charge of the search operation to provide their identification, as well as the warrant itself
- Notify your solicitor of the search and send them a copy of the warrant to check over
- Shadow the officers carrying out the search and make a note of their activities
- Provide the officers with passwords and access to any digital data they need to seize while making sure you have backed this information up
- Create your own records of what has been searched and taken, to compare against the records compiled by the investigators
For more information on how to prepare for a search and seizure visit, consult JMW’s guide on this topic, or get in touch with our business crime team.