Sneak and peek warrant

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A sneak and peek search warrant (officially called a Delayed Notice Warrant and also called a covert entry search warrant or a surreptitious entry search warrant) is a search warrant authorizing the law enforcement officers executing it to effect physical entry into private premises without the owner’s or the occupant’s permission or knowledge and to clandestinely search the premises; usually, such entry requires a stealthy breaking and entering. Law enforcement officers are not prohibited from seizing any property from the premises. For example, in one 2010 case federal investigators broke into an Cleveland apartment, collected evidence, and then “trashed the place to make it look like a burglary.” According to a Department of Justice document, DEA agents used a delayed-notice warrant to literally steal a suspect’s car in March 2004. After following the suspect to a restaurant in Buffalo, NY, one agent “used a duplicate key to enter the vehicle and drive away while other agents spread broken glass in the parking space to create the impression that the vehicle had been stolen.” Sneak and peek warrants are especially beneficial to illegal drug manufacturing investigations because they allow investigative teams to search the premises for chemicals and drug paraphernalia so that they can return with a traditional search warrant. [1]

Relevance to the USA PATRIOT Act[edit]

Under the USA PATRIOT Act signed into law during the 107th United States Congress on October 26, 2001, sneak and peek warrants for the first time in United States history were used as standard procedure in investigations. Sneak and peek warrants are addressed in Section 213, under Title II or the Enhanced Surveillance Procedures. These warrants are not exclusive to acts of foreign and domestic terrorism. Sneak and peek warrants are applicable to any federal crime, including misdemeanors.[2]

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