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Can police search a device several months after the 10 day limit on a search warrant?

Fort Collins, CO |

Search Warrant gives 10 day limit to seize and search items and location described. They Took a Camera, along with a computer and digital storage media. They searched the computer within the 10 days. They didn't search the storage media. They waited 3 months before searching the camera. No Criminal Charges filed. The officer states on record that they did not find anything relating to the allegations and then had it forensically examined to restore deleted media. They did not make an "Image" of the cameras hard drive. They searched the original container several months after the 10 day limit without obtaining an extension on the warrant or another warrant. They also were not given permission to forensically examine anything. No evidence connecting the camera to the crime.

"Now, therefore, you are commanded to execute and serve this warrant at any time within ten (10) days of the date hereof, to search the premises, person, place or thing described herein, and in the accompanying affidavit and to seize the property described herein and in the accompanying affidavit." This is the only sentence in the warrant that gives any permission to do anything with property. It looks like it only allows 10 days to search the "thing" described herein. I feel this is an argument of reasonableness as well. Considering that it isn't difficult to turn on a camera and view what's on it, it's much different than searching a computer. Also the allegations involve a laptop, but not illegal data that can be stored on another device like for example: Child Porn. I understand that this is fairly complicated and difficult to answer without more information. Thank you.

Attorney Answers 5


Your question relates to a very complex area of the law. It is very difficult if not impossible to give you any accurate legal advice on this issue without taking a look at the search warrant and doing an in depth initial consultation. Plus, if digital storage devices, camera, and computers are being searched I'm guessing you are dealing with very serious charges. I'd recommend you contact an attorney to set up an initial consultation.

Kent J. Leier
The Leier Law Office, LLC

The Leier Law Office, LLC, 110 East Oak St. Ste. 220, Fort Collins, CO. Call 970-682-4581 for a free consultation. The answer above does not form an attorney client relationship and does not substitute for advice that can be obtained during an in depth initial consultation.

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The search warrant gave them 10 days to search your premises and seize the items. It does not limit law enforcement to then search the items seized to any specific time period. Oftentimes, it takes weeks or months to do a forensic audit of a computer - even with the Colorado Bureau of Investigations and with the FBI. The same thing applies to the camera's hard drive. They do not need an extension of the search warrant once the items are in their possession. You really need to talk with a criminal defense attorney about this.

The information provided in this answer does not create an attorney-client relationship. If you are interested in his legal services, feel free to call Chris at (303) 409-7635 at his law office in the Denver Tech Center. All initial consultations are free of charge.

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Generally, the police wouldn't need to request an extension on the warrant to search the camera outside the 10 days.

Disclaimer: No attorney client privilege is established by receiving an answer to your question on Avvo. This answer is provided for informational purposes only. If you have further questions, please do not hesitate to visit my Avvo profile or website -- -- to set up an appointment to talk more about your issue. As required by Rule 7.2(e), Alabama Rules of Professional Conduct, no representation is made that the quality of the legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.

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Fort Collins:

In your area there is no one more experienced in police search and seizure issues than Kent Leier. I would give him a call and see if he would offer you a free consultation.

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The direct answer to your question "can police search a device..." is clearly yes because they appear to have done exactly that. The real question is what are you seeking to do about it?

If the police exceeded their authority then the primary remedy is exclusion of evidence. They won't be able to use any illegally obtained evidence against you. However, you appear to indicate that there was no evidence found in the search.

Another possibly remedy is a civil complaint for damages. However, you will not only need to show that the police violated your Fourth Amendment rights, but also that you had some sort of damages as a result. From what you have posted, it does not sound like you have much of a civil case.

Under these circumstances, even if the police exceeded their authority, it does not appear that there is anything you can do about it.

You can reach Harkess & Salter LLC at (303) 531-5380 or Stephen Harkess is an attorney licensed in the state and federal courts of Colorado. This answer is for general information only and does not create an attorney client relationship between Stephen Harkess or Harkess & Salter LLC and any person. You should schedule a consultation with an attorney to discuss the specifics of your legal issues.

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