Fourth Amendment Busting Sneak and Peek Warrants On the Rise
May 19, 2011
An Albuquerque television news report aired earlier this week reveals a steep increase by the federal government in the use of unconstitutional sneak and peek search warrants.
“The warrants have always been around, but their use has spiked since the War on Terror and revamped Patriot Act was signed in 2005,” reports KOAT. “The number of delayed-notice search warrants spiked nationally from nearly 700 in fiscal year 2007 to approaching close to 2,000 in 2009.
See a video report on the KOAT website.
According to KOAT, a majority of the search warrants were not related to terrorism cases. Justice Department figures indicate the majority of the secretive warrants were issued in drug cases.
“While billed as an anti-terror tool, (a sneak-and-peek warrant) had no requirements on it that it precluded it from being used in standard criminal investigations,” Peter Simonson of the ACLU told the news station.
The ACLU said it expects so-called delayed-notice warrant numbers to increase so long as the PATRIOT Act remains law.
Prior to the PATRIOT Act, the Fourth Amendment protected Americans against unreasonable searches and seizures and requires the government to both obtain a warrant and to give notice to the person whose property is to be searched prior to conducting the search. The notice requirement allowed a property owner to assert his or her rights under the Fourth Amendment.