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  1. #1
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    Sep 2008
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    2

    Default Getting the Police to Return Seized Computer Equipment

    Approximately 6 months ago I was charged with Offenses Against Intellectual Property. A search warrant was issued and a laptop and desktop computer belonging to me was seized and sent off for investigation. I had my trial a couple weeks ago and was found guilty. At that time though my computers had not yet been searched. After the trial I asked when I would receive my computers back and the detective in charge of the investigation said they were going to keep them and inspect them to see if they could find anything else to charge me with and that may take another year. I have important work related data on my computers and need them back. Can they continue to hold my computers even though my trial is over? And are they allowed to search my entire computer for anything in general, or are they allowed to search only for evidence relating to the original complaint? The search warrant is very vague and does not even mention searching the contents of my computers', the warrant on states that they could search my home for computer equipment.

  2. #2
    Join Date
    Jul 2008
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    471

    Default Re: Getting the Police to Return Seized Computer Equipment

    Quote Quoting BigRedOne
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    Approximately 6 months ago I was charged with Offenses Against Intellectual Property. A search warrant was issued and a laptop and desktop computer belonging to me was seized and sent off for investigation. I had my trial a couple weeks ago and was found guilty. At that time though my computers had not yet been searched. After the trial I asked when I would receive my computers back and the detective in charge of the investigation said they were going to keep them and inspect them to see if they could find anything else to charge me with and that may take another year. I have important work related data on my computers and need them back. Can they continue to hold my computers even though my trial is over? And are they allowed to search my entire computer for anything in general, or are they allowed to search only for evidence relating to the original complaint? The search warrant is very vague and does not even mention searching the contents of my computers', the warrant on states that they could search my home for computer equipment.
    No one can answer that. They are probably sitting in some cops house. However the detective was the wrong person to ask, he doesn't know anything. Ask the prosecutor everything goes through them. (I'm assuming you were found guilty because you didn't have a lawyer, I can think of no other reason to found guilty of that particular offense)

    http://cyb3rcrim3.blogspot.com/2007/...ep-seized.html

  3. #3
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
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    10

    Default Re: Getting the Police to Return Seized Computer Equipment

    if it is drug related, it is their's now due to the drug forfeiture law. anything siezed lawfuly that had any sort of involvment with drugs becomes the property of law enfrocement. One of my teachers worked for the DEA way back in the day, and he told us stories about the nice cars their department would get from all the big drug dealers they busted.

  4. #4
    Join Date
    Sep 2005
    Location
    California
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    20,589

    Default Re: Getting the Police to Return Seized Computer Equipment

    It's not quite as easy as that, and certainly not automatic. Whether the item is forfeited depends on the relevant state or federal law.

    In this case, there is no apparent issue of drugs, so seizure under that theory isn't going to happen.

    Typically, law enforcement will hold evidence until they are required to return it - either by court order or by direction from the DA.

    - carl
    **********
    Retired Cal Cop Sergeant & Teacher

    Seek justice,
    Love mercy,
    Walk humbly with your God

    -- Courageous, by Casting Crowns ... http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pkM-gDcmJeM

  5. #5
    Join Date
    Sep 2008
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    2

    Default Re: Getting the Police to Return Seized Computer Equipment

    I have filed a written request to both the the District Judge (who signed the warrant) and the Municipal Judge (who presided over the trial) and both have stated that they do not have the authority to order the return of my property with the Municipal Judge stating that he did not issue the warrant and the District Judge stating that he did not preside over the case. I have also contacted the prosecutor's office and they are unwilling to help. A couple more issues bothering me are that I was never issued a receipt for property taken. I know a laptop computer, a desktop computer, and an external harddrive were taken, but I am not sure if they took any USB storage devices, disks, or other computer equipment that I have not noticed is missing. Also, it stated on the warrant that the officer had 14 days to issue the warrant, but with it being 7 months, is the warrant even valid? Certainly there has to be some limit on the time they are given to search, otherwise they can just hold my property indefinitely. Also, the detective stated that the only reason he is still holding my computers for analysis is to search for other possible criminal content that may be on my computer which has nothing to do with the initial complaint. Since the charge brought forth from the complaint has already been settled, wouldn't that be an illegal search as he is actively searching for content not related to the case? Lastly, the investigator is friends with the claimant, and I suspect he is simply holding on to my property as his own way of punishing me. With these issues, would I have a possible civil rights case from this?

  6. #6
    Join Date
    Oct 2008
    Location
    Washington comma the Great State of.
    Posts
    1,211

    Default Re: Getting the Police to Return Seized Computer Equipment

    Quote Quoting BigRedOne
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    I have filed a written request to both the the District Judge (who signed the warrant) and the Municipal Judge (who presided over the trial) and both have stated that they do not have the authority to order the return of my property with the Municipal Judge stating that he did not issue the warrant and the District Judge stating that he did not preside over the case. I have also contacted the prosecutor's office and they are unwilling to help. A couple more issues bothering me are that I was never issued a receipt for property taken. I know a laptop computer, a desktop computer, and an external harddrive were taken, but I am not sure if they took any USB storage devices, disks, or other computer equipment that I have not noticed is missing. Also, it stated on the warrant that the officer had 14 days to issue the warrant, but with it being 7 months, is the warrant even valid? Certainly there has to be some limit on the time they are given to search, otherwise they can just hold my property indefinitely. Also, the detective stated that the only reason he is still holding my computers for analysis is to search for other possible criminal content that may be on my computer which has nothing to do with the initial complaint. Since the charge brought forth from the complaint has already been settled, wouldn't that be an illegal search as he is actively searching for content not related to the case? Lastly, the investigator is friends with the claimant, and I suspect he is simply holding on to my property as his own way of punishing me. With these issues, would I have a possible civil rights case from this?
    Yes, it does sound like it's illegal for him to keep searching if the cause for which it was seized is now over. If he wants to find new stuff, he should get a new warrant.

    If he's abusing his position as a police officer to keep your property because he's a friend the complaining party, then he's probably violating some criminal law.

    I hate to say it, but you need to get an attorney to get back your property.

    Who signed the warrant or presided over the trial doesn't seem to me to be relevant as all judges have the power to entertain motions before them since your case isn't pending in another court.

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