Dawn Raids & Searches
A raid or investigation at your home or business premises will inevitably cause instant worry and concern - there are procedures that must be followed. We can assist by advising you as soon as a raid commences.
A ‘dawn raid’ is the unannounced attendance by an investigating authority at your business premises or residential address. The purpose of the attendance (frequently by multiple investigating officers) is to carry out a search to identify and seize evidentially relevant documentation or other important material relating to a case they’re investigating. This could include materials stored electronically on phones, tablets and hard drives.
Crucially, a ‘dawn raid’ can only be carried out under the authority of a document known as a Search Warrant.
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What is a search warrant?
A search warrant is a legal document that gives investigating bodies permission to enter your property in search of evidence relevant to their investigation. This document will outline the remit of their investigation and the nature of the items they’re looking for.
The search should not go beyond the scope set out in this document. It’s vital that you contact us immediately so that we can advise on this and assist you in your cooperation with the process.
The officials conducting the search may have different powers depending on the search warrant, and the purpose of their attendance. It’s crucial that legal advice is obtained swiftly from experienced, analytical lawyers at this point. We work hard to ensure that you are treated fairly and ethically in the event of a raid and search on your property, at that the investigative need for doing so is just and required.
Many authorities can apply for a search warrant to carry out a ‘dawn raid’. This includes the:
- Serious Fraud Office (SFO)
- Financial Conduct Authority (FCA)
- HM Revenues and Customs (HMRC)
- National Crime Agency (NCA)
- Competition and Markets Authority (CMA)
Investigators apply for search warrants and conduct ‘dawn raids’ where they suspect that criminal offences have been committed. A dawn raid will typically signal the start of an investigation which could end in criminal proceedings.
Such inspections are unsettling and unpleasant. It is important that you and your business work with us to handle the situation properly so as to aid in the successful resolution of the case.
What to do in a dawn raid
If you are subject to a dawn raid at your home or business premises, there are key points to remember:
- Speak to the officer in charge to obtain a copy of the search warrant setting out the purpose and scope of their search.
- Immediately seek our legal advice. We can advise on the validity of the search.
- Make a note of all your dealings and ensure the investigating officers do the same. We can also speak to the officer in charge of the investigation and negotiate on your behalf.
- Request a delay to the search to ensure that a specialist lawyer from our financial crime team can supervise any search and conduct of investigating officers. This may not be granted, and if the search commences ensure you supervise the officials and make a note of any items they deal with.
- Ensure only items which come within the direct scope of the authorised search are seized and only from authorised premises. Make representations and make a note of response.
- Seek to ensure that documents that should not be seized are not considered or seized. This includes documents that contain legal advice to you which are protected by “Legal Professional Privilege”.
Why choose Hodge Jones & Allen?
We know how different investigators work, what material they may be looking for and the consequences for your business. That’s why we’ll attend the raid to ensure you and your company’s interests are protected.
We can guide investigators as to whether items are seized or copied. We’ll also aim to ensure that investigators properly consider the needs of your business and that their actions are proportionate and sensible.
A dawn raid is a worrying and potentially damaging time for your business. Our team can assist you in managing the adverse consequences to your business in this situation. So, you can be confident matters are dealt with properly, limiting any damage to your business and professional standing.
It is important to remember a dawn raid will likely be only the first step in a long investigation process. We can assist you through every stage, working to ensure the best possible outcome for you. We’ll support you and your business once items are seized and can seek the return of items when relevant.
We have enormous experience of successfully intervening in investigations, presenting supporting evidence and making submissions with a view to diverting the matter from further proceedings.
"DEMONSTRATED A RARE ABILITIY TO COMBINE PROFESSIONALISM WITH A PERSONAL TOUCH."
Should the worst happen, and proceedings are taken following a dawn raid – whether it’s a criminal or regulatory case – then you can be reassured that we have unparalleled ability to defend your matter ably and robustly.