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Illegal search and seizure of Computer? Need advice for my 16 year old.

North Highlands, CA |

My son's computer was hacked by someone he knew and our IP address was taken over in order to make calls to the Sheriff's department, making false "swatting" calls. When the officers arrived at my home, they told him that if he plead guilty, he wouldn't go to jail. He explained it wasn't him and showed them proof of screenshots from these harassers threats that they were going to do this. They told my son either he goes to jail or they take his computer. He didn't consent to either and they took his computer anyway. They didn't file a report and he's not a "suspect". He's a "witness". What legal rights do we have in this matter and how do we get his computer back? My husband was home and allowed officers into the home, but didn't consent to search and seizure. Please help!

We also had to change our IP address with Comcast a week before because someone took over our IP address and we were essentially locked out of our computers and other devices. We also called Comcast right after this incident on Friday and we were told that someone had downloaded a virus onto our computer and that's how they got our IP address.

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Attorney answers 4

Best Answer
Posted

First and foremost, protect your son against any criminal charges. If none are filed, you can file for a motion to return his property. Better safe than sorry on this one though - I'd suggest at least consulting with a local criminal defense attorney who can assist - and more importantly make sure your son is not still under investigation.

The above answer is for general information only and is based on the information you posted. Every case is fact dependent, so to get a thorough analysis of your situation, you will need to consult face to face with an attorney licensed to practice in the jurisdiction where the incident took place. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case.

Joseph Briscoe Dane

Joseph Briscoe Dane

Posted

And - I'm going to respectfully disagree with the premise that this was a consensual search. You clearly stated you did NOT consent to the search/seizure of the computer. Just allowing them into the house does not give them carte blanche to search anywhere and seize anything.

Asker

Posted

Thank you for your help. One of the officers told my son to give him the password to his computer and once he looks at the screenshots and internet history along with skype, facebook, etc he would not take his computer. So, my son gave it to him and he did look through everything, seeing the evidence, etc and said, well I'm not tech savvy so we have to take your computer anyway. I am going to follow your advice and consult an attorney here in my county. Also when they arrived at my home, the female officer started talking to my son, and the male officer took my son out back, and questioned him without my husband present. Can they do that? I was at work at the time, on my way home... they were still there once I got home. When I asked if they had a warrant, they said no, they didn't need one because my husband let them in and my son was a witness. thanks again!

Asker

Posted

I'm sorry, the female officer talked to my husband while the male officer took my son outside to the back yard...

Posted

Sounds like it was a consentual search based on the information you provided. If the computer is evidence in a criminal investigation, they may have limitedrights to seize and preserve the evidence. You need to contact Sac Sherriff High Tech division and ask about a release.

I am licensed in California, therefore, my answers are based on general prinicpals of law or California law, which may not be applicable in your jurisdiction. Answers posted to Avvo are for general information only. Do not conclusively rely on any information posted online when deciding what to do about your case. Every case depends is fact dependent, and responses are limited to and is based on the information you posted. No attorney-client relationship shall be created through the use reading of this response on Avvo. You should never delay seeking legal advice, disregard legal advice, or commence or discontinue any legal action because of information in this response.

Posted

Consult a criminal defense attorney IMMEDIATELY. Based on your facts, I guarantee your son is not a "witness", he is a suspect. In fact, he's probably the prime suspect if not the ONLY suspect. Say NOTHING more to the police or ANYONE ELSE about this without an attorney present. Get your son an attorney NOW.

The response above is not intended as legal advice. This response does not create an attorney-client relationship. Legal questions can only be fully answered through consultation with an attorney to whom you give full and accurate details. Anything you post here is not confidential and is not protected by the attorney-client relationship. It is highly recommended that you seek advice from a criminal defense attorney licensed in your jurisdiction by setting up a confidential meeting.

Posted

It sounds like a consensual search, however, the police reports might not be exactly how you remember...so maybe hire an attorney and see how it goes?