This advice will seem common-sensical in the months and years following the raid. Still, and for understandable reasons, this simple step is not always a priority to one whose business has been turned upside down by law enforcement. Ask yourself: Have I preserved video surveillance of the premises (i.e., to ensure that digital footage is not recycled)? Have I interviewed my employees? Who, exactly, did what, when, where, why and how? Have I itemized what was confiscated by the police? Have I photographed the scene? Have I instructed the law enforcement agency to direct all inquiries to an attorney?
Mark Your Calendar
Undoutedly you'll receive a "notice" from the government. In fact, you might receive several notices. If the government has taken your property, for example, you might receive what is called a "notice of asset forfeiture." If the government is charging you with a crime, you might receive a citation. If your business is a highly regulated one (e.g., pawn shop, nightclub, manufacturer), you might receive notice that the government intends to revoke your business's license. These notices will contain -- and trigger -- critical dates.
The time to prepare your defense is now. You must research the law. Once you thoroughly understand the law, you can begin gathering evidence to defend your business. Interview adverse witnesses. Request documents from relevant governmental agencies. Keep a diary. Develop a litigation strategy.
After you have performed the steps above (and sometimes even sooner), you should open a dialogue with the law enforcement agency that raided your business. Why did the raid happen? What did you do to instigate the raid? Could you have prevented it? What will you do in the future to avoid the circumstances that caused the raid to happen? Are there alternative punishments to losing your business license?
Consider Hiring an Attorney
If your store's pipes burst, you'd probably call a plumber. If the store's electrical system sizzled, you'd probably call an electrician. So, if your store's license is put in jeoprady following a raid, you should probably contact an attorney. If, for no other reason, a consultation at the outset might bring peace of mind. Frequently the laws and regulations that govern businesses lay out strict deadlines for appeals and other claims. A good attorney can explain your rights and liabilities.