Law enforcement normally gets a search warrant by showing a court that they have probable cause to believe someone has committed a crime. This means that officers must be able to show that a particular person is a suspect and they believe they can find evidence of the crime in a particular location. If the court finds probable cause and issues a warrant, then law enforcement can legally search the area they suspect has evidence of a crime and collect evidence during the search.
Dragnet warrants, like keyword search warrants or geo-fence warrants, are far different from standard warrants. These warrants are digitally-based, and as the name suggests, they are intended to “drag a net” through a specific area in the hopes they’ll uncover suspicious activity from a multitude of people.
Geo-fence warrants gather information on any person who was in an area during a specified timeframe. Similarly, keyword search warrants gather information about the search terms that a person types into a search engine, such as Google. The police are therefore able to identify people who searched for specific words or phrases using a search engine. This allows the police to find anybody who searches for certain words or phrases online.
Keyword Warrants, Geo-fence Warrants, and the Law
Most people, especially minors, are unaware of their lack of privacy while online. The keywords that a person types during an online search may be included in a dragnet warrant that law enforcement can obtain to investigate potential criminal activity.
Even if your child, or your family, is innocent of criminal involvement, these invasive warrants allow law enforcement to spy on multiple people at a given time. Often, these individuals are unaware that they are being monitored for no other reason than searching online for terms that law enforcement deems suspicious.
Legal issues can significantly disrupt a person’s trajectory, especially if they are a first-time offender.
The best way to protect yourself from keyword search warrants, and other types of dragnet search warrants, is to take precautions that prevent your data from being obtained in the first place. A VPN might be a worthy option to consider, as it keeps your family’s private data out of the hands of unauthorized parties.
It is also a good idea to know about the possibility of dragnet warrants and understand you must be mindful of the terms that are searched online.
However, if a situation has already occurred and you are concerned that you will be approached by law enforcement, ensure you are aware of your rights. If questioned, you should tell the police that you want to remain silent and request an attorney. Answering most questions is voluntary.
If the police are going to question you, the next step to take is to retain an attorney. Do you not provide any information until you have established contact with an attorney?
At The Juba Law Office, we will take every possible step to protect you and your family from the impact of invasive warrants. Give us a call as soon as possible for a consultation, and one of our attorneys will protect your rights throughout every step of the legal process you’re facing.