Rule 41. Search and Seizure
(a) Scope and Definitions.
(1) Scope. This rule does not modify any statute regulating search or seizure, or the issuance and execution of a search warrant in special circumstances.
(2) Definitions. The following definitions apply under this rule:
(A) “Property” includes documents, books, papers, any other tangible objects, and information.
(B) “Daytime” means the hours between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. according to local time.
(C) “Federal law enforcement officer” means a government agent (other than an attorney for the government) who is engaged in enforcing the criminal laws and is within any category of officers authorized by the Attorney General to request a search warrant.
(D) “Domestic terrorism” and “international terrorism” have the meanings set out in 18 U.S.C. §2331.
(E) “Tracking device” has the meaning set out in 18 U.S.C. §3117 (b).
(1) a magistrate judge with authority in the district—or if none is reasonably available, a judge of a state court of record in the district—has authority to issue a warrant to search for and seize a person or property located within the district;
(2) a magistrate judge with authority in the district has authority to issue a warrant for a person or property outside the district if the person or property is located within the district when the warrant is issued but might move or be moved outside the district before the warrant is executed;
(3) a magistrate judge—in an investigation of domestic terrorism or international terrorism—with authority in any district in which activities related to the terrorism may have occurred has authority to issue a warrant for a person or property within or outside that district;
(4) a magistrate judge with authority in the district has authority to issue a warrant to install within the district a tracking device; the warrant may authorize use of the device to track the movement of a person or property located within the district, outside the district, or both; and
(5) a magistrate judge having authority in any district where activities related to the crime may have occurred, or in the District of Columbia, may issue a warrant for property that is located outside the jurisdiction of any state or district, but within any of the following:
(A) a United States territory, possession, or commonwealth;
(B) the premises—no matter who owns them—of a United States diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state, including any appurtenant building, part of a building, or land used for the mission's purposes; or
(C) a residence and any appurtenant land owned or leased by the United States and used by United States personnel assigned to a United States diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state.
(c) Persons or Property Subject to Search or Seizure. A warrant may be issued for any of the following:
(1) evidence of a crime;
(2) contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed;
(3) property designed for use, intended for use, or used in committing a crime; or
(4) a person to be arrested or a person who is unlawfully restrained.
(d) Obtaining a Warrant.
(1) In General. After receiving an affidavit or other information, a magistrate judge—or if authorized by Rule 41(b), a judge of a state court of record—must issue the warrant if there is probable cause to search for and seize a person or property or to install and use a tracking device.
(2) Requesting a Warrant in the Presence of a Judge.
(A) Warrant on an Affidavit. When a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government presents an affidavit in support of a warrant, the judge may require the affiant to appear personally and may examine under oath the affiant and any witness the affiant produces.
(B) Warrant on Sworn Testimony. The judge may wholly or partially dispense with a written affidavit and base a warrant on sworn testimony if doing so is reasonable under the circumstances.
(C) Recording Testimony. Testimony taken in support of a warrant must be recorded by a court reporter or by a suitable recording device, and the judge must file the transcript or recording with the clerk, along with any affidavit.
(3) Requesting a Warrant by Telephonic or Other Reliable Electronic Means. In accordance with Rule 4.1, a magistrate judge may issue a warrant based on information communicated by telephone or other reliable electronic means.
(e) Issuing the Warrant.
(1) In General. The magistrate judge or a judge of a state court of record must issue the warrant to an officer authorized to execute it.
(2) Contents of the Warrant.
(A) Warrant to Search for and Seize a Person or Property. Except for a tracking-device warrant, the warrant must identify the person or property to be searched, identify any person or property to be seized, and designate the magistrate judge to whom it must be returned. The warrant must command the officer to:
(i) execute the warrant within a specified time no longer than 14 days;
(ii) execute the warrant during the daytime, unless the judge for good cause expressly authorizes execution at another time; and
(iii) return the warrant to the magistrate judge designated in the warrant.
(B) Warrant Seeking Electronically Stored Information. A warrant under Rule 41(e)(2)(A) may authorize the seizure of electronic storage media or the seizure or copying of electronically stored information. Unless otherwise specified, the warrant authorizes a later review of the media or information consistent with the warrant. The time for executing the warrant in Rule 41(e)(2)(A) and (f)(1)(A) refers to the seizure or on-site copying of the media or information, and not to any later off-site copying or review.
(C) Warrant for a Tracking Device. A tracking-device warrant must identify the person or property to be tracked, designate the magistrate judge to whom it must be returned, and specify a reasonable length of time that the device may be used. The time must not exceed 45 days from the date the warrant was issued. The court may, for good cause, grant one or more extensions for a reasonable period not to exceed 45 days each. The warrant must command the officer to:
(i) complete any installation authorized by the warrant within a specified time no longer than 10 days;
(ii) perform any installation authorized by the warrant during the daytime, unless the judge for good cause expressly authorizes installation at another time; and
(iii) return the warrant to the judge designated in the warrant.
(f) Executing and Returning the Warrant.
(1) Warrant to Search for and Seize a Person or Property.
(A) Noting the Time. The officer executing the warrant must enter on it the exact date and time it was executed.
(B) Inventory. An officer present during the execution of the warrant must prepare and verify an inventory of any property seized. The officer must do so in the presence of another officer and the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken. If either one is not present, the officer must prepare and verify the inventory in the presence of at least one other credible person. In a case involving the seizure of electronic storage media or the seizure or copying of electronically stored information, the inventory may be limited to describing the physical storage media that were seized or copied. The officer may retain a copy of the electronically stored information that was seized or copied.
(C) Receipt. The officer executing the warrant must give a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property taken to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken or leave a copy of the warrant and receipt at the place where the officer took the property.
(D) Return. The officer executing the warrant must promptly return it—together with a copy of the inventory—to the magistrate judge designated on the warrant. The officer may do so by reliable electronic means. The judge must, on request, give a copy of the inventory to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken and to the applicant for the warrant.
(2) Warrant for a Tracking Device.
(A) Noting the Time. The officer executing a tracking-device warrant must enter on it the exact date and time the device was installed and the period during which it was used.
(B) Return. Within 10 days after the use of the tracking device has ended, the officer executing the warrant must return it to the judge designated in the warrant. The officer may do so by reliable electronic means.
(C) Service. Within 10 days after the use of the tracking device has ended, the officer executing a tracking-device warrant must serve a copy of the warrant on the person who was tracked or whose property was tracked. Service may be accomplished by delivering a copy to the person who, or whose property, was tracked; or by leaving a copy at the person's residence or usual place of abode with an individual of suitable age and discretion who resides at that location and by mailing a copy to the person's last known address. Upon request of the government, the judge may delay notice as provided in Rule 41(f)(3).
(3) Delayed Notice. Upon the government's request, a magistrate judge—or if authorized by Rule 41(b), a judge of a state court of record—may delay any notice required by this rule if the delay is authorized by statute.
(g) Motion to Return Property. A person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property or by the deprivation of property may move for the property's return. The motion must be filed in the district where the property was seized. The court must receive evidence on any factual issue necessary to decide the motion. If it grants the motion, the court must return the property to the movant, but may impose reasonable conditions to protect access to the property and its use in later proceedings.
(h) Motion to Suppress. A defendant may move to suppress evidence in the court where the trial will occur, as Rule 12 provides.
(i) Forwarding Papers to the Clerk. The magistrate judge to whom the warrant is returned must attach to the warrant a copy of the return, of the inventory, and of all other related papers and must deliver them to the clerk in the district where the property was seized.
(As amended Dec. 27, 1948, eff. Oct. 20, 1949; Apr. 9, 1956, eff. July 8, 1956; Apr. 24, 1972, eff. Oct. 1, 1972; Mar. 18, 1974, eff. July 1, 1974; Apr. 26 and July 8, 1976, eff. Aug. 1, 1976; Pub. L. 95–78, §2(e), July 30, 1977, 91 Stat. 320, eff. Oct. 1, 1977; Apr. 30, 1979, eff. Aug. 1, 1979; Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 25, 1989, eff. Dec. 1, 1989; May 1, 1990, eff. Dec. 1, 1990; Apr. 22, 1993, eff. Dec. 1, 1993; Pub. L. 107–56, title II, §219, Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 291; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002; Apr. 12, 2006, eff. Dec. 1, 2006; Apr. 23, 2008, eff. Dec. 1, 2008; Mar. 26, 2009, eff. Dec. 1, 2009; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1944
This rule is a codification of existing law and practice.
Note to Subdivision (a). This rule is a restatement of existing law, 18 U.S.C. [former] 611.
Note to Subdivision (b). This rule is a restatement of existing law, 18 U.S.C. [former] 612; Conyer v. United States, 80 F.2d 292 (C.C.A. 6th). This provision does not supersede or repeal special statutory provisions permitting the issuance of search warrants in specific circumstances. See Subdivision (g) and Note thereto, infra.
Note to Subdivision (c). This rule is a restatement of existing law, 18 U.S.C. [former] 613–616, 620; Dumbra v. United States, 268 U.S. 435.
Note to Subdivision (d). This rule is a restatement of existing law, 18 U.S.C. [former] 621–624.
Note to Subdivision (e). This rule is a restatement of existing law and practice, with the exception hereafter noted, 18 U.S.C. [former] 625, 626; Weeks v. United States, 232 U.S. 383; Silverthorne Lumber Co. v. United States, 251 U.S. 385; Agello v. United States, 269 U.S. 20; Gouled v. United States, 255 U.S. 298. While under existing law a motion to suppress evidence or to compel return of property obtained by an illegal search and seizure may be made either before a commissioner subject to review by the court on motion, or before the court, the rule provides that such motion may be made only before the court. The purpose is to prevent multiplication of proceedings and to bring the matter before the court in the first instance. While during the life of the Eighteenth Amendment when such motions were numerous it was a common practice in some districts for commissioners to hear such motions, the prevailing practice at the present time is to make such motions before the district court. This practice, which is deemed to be preferable, is embodied in the rule.
Note to Subdivision (f). This rule is a restatement of existing law, 18 U.S.C. [former] 627; Cf. Rule 5(c) (last sentence).
Note to Subdivision (g). While Rule 41 supersedes the general provisions of 18 U.S.C. 611 –626 [now 18 U.S.C. 3105, 3109], relating to search warrants, it does not supersede, but preserves, all other statutory provisions permitting searches and seizures in specific situations. Among such statutes are the following:
U.S.C., Title 18:
Section 287 [former] (Search warrant for suspected counterfeiture)
U.S.C., Title 19:
Section 1595 (Customs duties; searches and seizures)
U.S.C., Title 26:
Section 3117 [now 5557] (Officers and agents authorized to investigate, issue search warrants, and prosecute for violations)
For statutes which incorporate by reference 18 U.S.C. [former] 98, and therefore are now controlled by this rule, see, e. g.:
U.S.C., Title 18:
Section 12 [former] (Subversive activities; undermining loyalty, discipline, or morale of armed forces; searches and seizures)
U.S.C., Title 26:
Section 3116 [now 7302] (Forfeitures and seizures)
Statutory provision for a warrant for detention of war materials seized under certain circumstances is found in 22 U.S.C. 402 [see 401] (Seizure of war materials intended for unlawful export.)
Other statutes providing for searches and seizures or entry without warrants are the following:
U.S.C., Title 19:
Section 482 (Search of vehicles and persons)
U.S.C., Title 25:
Section 246 [now 18 U.S.C. 3113 ] (Searches and seizures)
U.S.C., Title 26:
Section 3601 [now 7606] (Entry of premises for examination of taxable objects)
U.S.C., Title 29:
Section 211 (Investigations, inspections, and records)
U.S.C., Title 49:
Section 781 [now 80302] (Unlawful use of vessels, vehicles, and aircrafts; contraband article defined)
Section 782 [now 80303] (Seizure and forfeiture)
Section 784 [now 80306] (Application of related laws)
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1948 Amendment
Subdivision (b)(3).—The amendment is to substitute proper reference to Title 18 in place of the repealed acts.
Subdivision (g).—To eliminate reference to sections of the Act of June 15, 1917, c. 30, which have been repealed by the Act of June 25, 1948, c. 645, which enacted Title 18.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1972 Amendment
Subdivision (a) is amended to provide that a search warrant may be issued only upon the request of a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government. The phrase “federal law enforcement officer” is defined in subdivision (h) in a way which will allow the Attorney General to designate the category of officers who are authorized to make application for a search warrant. The phrase “attorney for the government” is defined in rule 54.
The title to subdivision (b) is changed to make it conform more accurately to the content of the subdivision. Subdivision (b) is also changed to modernize the language used to describe the property which may be seized with a lawfully issued search warrant and to take account of a recent Supreme Court decision ( Warden v. Haden, 387 U.S. 294 (1967)) and recent congressional action ( 18 U.S.C. §3103a) which authorize the issuance of a search warrant to search for items of solely evidential value. 18 U.S.C. §3103a provides that “a warrant may be issued to search for and seize any property that constitutes evidence of a criminal offense. . . .”
Recent state legislation authorizes the issuance of a search warrant for evidence of crime. See, e.g., Cal. Penal Code §1524 (4) (West Supp. 1968); Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, §108–3 (1965); LSA C.Cr.P. art. 161 (1967); N.Y. CPL §690.10(4) (McKinney, 1971); Ore.Rev.Stat. §141.010 (1969); Wis.Stat. §968.13(2) (1969).
The general weight of recent text and law review comment has been in favor of allowing a search for evidence. 8 Wigmore, Evidence §2184a. (McNaughton rev. 1961); Kamisar. The Wiretapping-Eavesdropping Problem: A professor's View, 44 Minn.L.Rev. 891 (1960); Kaplan, Search and Seizure: A No-Man's Land in the Criminal Law, 49 Calif.L.Rev. 474 (1961); Comments: 66 Colum.L.Rev. 355 (1966), 45 N.C.L.Rev. 512 (1967), 20 U.Chi.L.Rev. 319 (1953).
There is no intention to limit the protection of the fifth amendment against compulsory self-incrimination, so items which are solely “testimonial” or “communicative” in nature might well be inadmissible on those grounds. Schmerber v. California, 384 U.S. 757 (1966). The court referred to the possible fifth amendment limitation in Warden v. Hayden, supra:
This case thus does not require that we consider whether there are items of evidential value whose very nature precludes them from being the object of a reasonable search and seizure. [387 U.S. at 303].
See ALI Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure §551.03(2) and commentary at pp. 3–5 (April 30, 1971).
It seems preferable to allow the fifth amendment limitation to develop as cases arise rather than attempt to articulate the constitutional doctrine as part of the rule itself.
The amendment to subdivision (c) is intended to make clear that a search warrant may properly be based upon a finding of probable cause based upon hearsay. That a search warrant may properly be issued on the basis of hearsay is current law. See, e.g., Jones v. United States, 362 U.S. 257 (1960); Spinelli v. United States, 393 U.S. 410 (1969). See also State v. Beal, 40 Wis.2d 607, 162 N.W.2d 640 (1968), reversing prior Wisconsin cases which held that a search warrant could not properly issue on the basis of hearsay evidence.
The provision in subdivision (c) that the magistrate may examine the affiant or witnesses under oath is intended to assure him an opportunity to make a careful decision as to whether there is probable cause. It seems desirable to do this as an incident to the issuance of the warrant rather than having the issue raised only later on a motion to suppress the evidence. See L. Tiffany, D. McIntyre, and D. Rotenberg, Detection of Crime 118 (1967). If testimony is taken it must be recorded, transcribed, and made part of the affidavit or affidavits. This is to insure an adequate basis for determining the sufficiency of the evidentiary grounds for the issuance of the search warrant if that question should later arise.
The requirement that the warrant itself state the grounds for its issuance and the names of any affiants, is eliminated as unnecessary paper work. There is no comparable requirement for an arrest warrant in rule 4. A person who wishes to challenge the validity of a search warrant has access to the affidavits upon which the warrant was issued.
The former requirement that the warrant require that the search be conducted “forthwith” is changed to read “within a specified period of time not to exceed 10 days.” The former rule contained an inconsistency between subdivision (c) requiring that the search be conducted “forthwith” and subdivision (d) requiring execution “within 10 days after its date.” The amendment resolves this ambiguity and confers discretion upon the issuing magistrate to specify the time within which the search may be conducted to meet the needs of the particular case.
The rule is also changed to allow the magistrate to authorize a search at a time other than “daytime,” where there is “reasonable cause shown” for doing so. To make clear what “daytime” means, the term is defined in subdivision (h).
Subdivision (d) is amended to conform its language to the Federal Magistrates Act. The language “The warrant may be executed and returned only within 10 days after its date” is omitted as unnecessary. The matter is now covered adequately in proposed subdivision (c) which gives the issuing officer authority to fix the time within which the warrant is to be executed.
The amendment to subdivision (e) and the addition of subdivision (f) are intended to require the motion to suppress evidence to be made in the trial court rather than in the district in which the evidence was seized as now allowed by the rule. In DiBella v. United States, 369 U.S. 121 (1962), the court, in effect, discouraged motions to suppress in the district in which the property was seized:
There is a decision in the Second Circuit, United States v. Klapholz, 230 F.2d 494 (1956), allowing the Government an appeal from an order granting a post-indictment motion to suppress, apparently for the single reason that the motion was filed in the district of seizure rather than of trial; but the case was soon thereafter taken by a District Court to have counseled declining jurisdiction of such motions for reasons persuasive against allowing the appeal: “This course will avoid a needless duplication of effort by two courts and provide a more expeditious resolution of the controversy besides avoiding the risk of determining prematurely and inadequately the admissibility of evidence at the trial. . . . A piecemeal adjudication such as that which would necessarily follow from a disposition of the motion here might conceivably result in prejudice either to the Government or the defendants, or both.” United States v. Lester, 21 F.R.D. 30, 31 (D.C.S.D.N.Y. 1957). Rule 41(e), of course, specifically provides for making of the motion in the district of seizure On a summary hearing, however, the ruling there is likely always to be tentative. We think it accords most satisfactorily with sound administration of the Rules to treat such rulings as interlocutory. [369 U.S. at 132–133.]
As amended, subdivision (e) provides for a return of the property if (1) the person is entitled to lawful possession and (2) the seizure was illegal. This means that the judge in the district of seizure does not have to decide the legality of the seizure in cases involving contraband which, even if seized illegally, is not to be returned.
The five grounds for returning the property, presently listed in the rule, are dropped for two reasons—(1) substantive grounds for objecting to illegally obtained evidence ( e.g., Miranda) are not ordinarily codified in the rules and (2) the categories are not entirely accurate. See United States v. Howard, 138 F.Supp. 376, 380 (D.Md. 1956).
A sentence is added to subdivision (e) to provide that a motion for return of property, made in the district of trial, shall be treated also as a motion to suppress under rule 12. This change is intended to further the objective of rule 12 which is to have all pretrial motions disposed of in a single court appearance rather than to have a series of pretrial motions made on different dates, causing undue delay in administration.
Subdivision (f) is new and reflects the position that it is best to have the motion to suppress made in the court of the district of trial rather than in the court of the district in which the seizure occurred. The motion to suppress in the district of trial should be made in accordance with the provisions of rule 12.
Subdivision (g) is changed to conform to subdivision (c) which requires the return to be made before a federal judicial officer even though the search warrant may have been issued by a nonfederal magistrate.
Subdivision (h) is former rule 41(g) with the addition of a definition of the term “daytime” and the phrase “federal law enforcement officer.”
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1974 Amendment
The amendment restores the words “court of record” which were inadvertently omitted from the amended text of the subdivision which was transmitted by the Judicial Conference to the Supreme Court and prescribed by the Court on April 24, 1972.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1977 Amendment
Rule 41(c)(2) is added to establish a procedure for the issuance of a search warrant when it is not reasonably practicable for the person obtaining the warrant to present a written affidavit to a magistrate or a state judge as required by subdivision (c)(1). At least two states have adopted a similar procedure, Ariz.Rev.Stat. Ann. §§13–1444(c)–1445(c) (Supp. 1973); Cal.Pen. Code §§1526(b), 1528(b) (West Supp. 1974), and comparable amendments are under consideration in other jurisdictions. See Israel, Legislative Regulation of Searches and Seizures: The Michigan Proposals, 73 Mich.L.Rev. 221, 258–63 (1975); Nakell, Proposed Revisions of North Carolina's Search and Seizure Law, 52 N.Car.L.Rev. 277, 306–11 (1973). It has been strongly recommended that “every State enact legislation that provides for the issuance of search warrants pursuant to telephoned petitions and affidavits from police officers.” National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals, Report on Police 95 (1973). Experience with the procedure has been most favorable. Miller, Telephonic Search Warrants: The San Diego Experience, 9 The Prosecutor 385 (1974).
The trend of recent Supreme Court decisions has been to give greater priority to the use of a search warrant as the proper way of making a lawful search:
It is a cardinal rule that, in seizing goods and articles, law enforcement agents must secure and use search warrants whenever reasonably practicable. . . . This rule rests upon the desirability of having magistrates rather than police officers determine when searches and seizures are permissible and what limitations should be placed upon such activities. Trupiano v. United States, 334 U.S. 699, 705 (1948), quoted with approval in Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 758 (1969).
See also Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443 (1971); Note, Chambers v. Maroney: New Dimensions in the Law of Search and Seizure, 46 Indiana L.J. 257, 262 (1971).
Use of search warrants can best be encouraged by making it administratively feasible to obtain a warrant when one is needed. One reason for the nonuse of the warrant has been the administrative difficulties involved in getting a warrant, particularly at times of the day when a judicial officer is ordinarily unavailable. See L. Tiffany, D. McIntyre, and D. Rotenberg, Detection of Crime 105–116 (1967); LaFave, Improving Police Performance Through the Exclusionary Rule, 30 Mo.L.Rev. 391, 411 (1965). Federal law enforcement officers are not infrequently confronted with situations in which the circumstances are not sufficiently “exigent” to justify the serious step of conducting a warrantless search of private premises, but yet there exists a significant possibility that critical evidence would be lost in the time it would take to obtain a search warrant by traditional means. See, e.g., United States v. Johnson,—F.2d—(D.C. Cir. June 16, 1975).
Subdivision (c)(2) provides that a warrant may be issued on the basis of an oral statement of a person not in the physical presence of the federal magistrate. Telephone, radio, or other electronic methods of communication are contemplated. For the warrant to properly issue, four requirements must be met:
(1) The applicant—a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government, as required by subdivision (a)—must persuade the magistrate that the circumstances of time and place make it reasonable to request the magistrate to issue a warrant on the basis of oral testimony. This restriction on the issuance of a warrant recognizes the inherent limitations of an oral warrant procedure, the lack of demeanor evidence, and the lack of a written record for the reviewing magistrate to consider before issuing the warrant. See Comment, Oral Search Warrants: A New Standard of Warrant Availability, 21 U.C.L.A. Law Review 691, 701 (1974). Circumstances making it reasonable to obtain a warrant on oral testimony exist if delay in obtaining the warrant might result in the destruction or disappearance of the property [see Chimel v. California, 395 U.S. 752, 773–774 (1969) (White, dissenting); Landynski, The Supreme Court's Search for Fourth Amendment Standards: The Warrantless Search, 45 Conn.B.J. 2, 25 (1971)]; or because of the time when the warrant is sought, the distance from the magistrate of the person seeking the warrant, or both.
(2) The applicant must orally state facts sufficient to satisfy the probable cause requirement for the issuance of the search warrant. (See subdivision (c)(1).) This information may come from either the applicant federal law enforcement officer or the attorney for the government or a witness willing to make an oral statement. The oral testimony must be recorded at this time so that the transcribed affidavit will provide an adequate basis for determining the sufficiency of the evidence if that issue should later arise. See Kipperman. Inaccurate Search Warrant Affidavits as a Ground for Suppressing Evidence, 84 Harv.L.Rev. 825 (1971). It is contemplated that the recording of the oral testimony will be made by a court reporter, by a mechanical recording device, or by a verbatim contemporaneous writing by the magistrate. Recording a telephone conversation is no longer difficult with many easily operated recorders available. See 86:2 L.A. Daily Journal 1 (1973); Miller, Telephonic Search Warrants: The San Diego Experience, 9 The Prosecutor 385, 386 (1974).
(3) The applicant must read the contents of the warrant to the federal magistrate in order to enable the magistrate to know whether the requirements of certainty in the warrant are satisfied. The magistrate may direct that changes be made in the warrant. If the magistrate approves the warrant as requested or as modified by the magistrate, he then issues the warrant by directing the applicant to sign the magistrate's name to the duplicate original warrant. The magistrate then causes to be made a written copy of the approved warrant. This constitutes the original warrant. The magistrate enters the time of issuance of the duplicate original warrant on the face of the original warrant.
(4) Return of the duplicate original warrant and the original warrant must conform to subdivision (d). The transcript of the sworn oral testimony setting forth the grounds for issuance of the warrant must be signed by affiant in the presence of the magistrate and filed with the court.
Because federal magistrates are likely to be accessible through the use of the telephone or other electronic devices, it is unnecessary to authorize state judges to issue warrants under subdivision (c)(2).
Although the procedure set out in subdivision (c)(2) contemplates resort to technology which did not exist when the Fourth Amendment was adopted, the Advisory Committee is of the view that the procedure complies with all of the requirements of the Amendment. The telephonic search warrant process has been upheld as constitutional by the courts, e.g., People v. Peck, 38 Cal.App.3d 993, 113 Cal.Rptr. 806 (1974), and has consistently been so viewed by commentators. See Israel, Legislative Regulation of Searches and Seizures: The Michigan Proposals, 73 Mich.L.Rev. 221, 260 (1975); Nakell, Proposed Revisions of North Carolina's Search and Seizure Law, 52 N.Car.L.Rev. 277, 310 (1973); Comment, Oral Search Warrants: A New Standard of Warrant Availability, 21 U.C.L.A.Rev. 691, 697 (1973).
Reliance upon oral testimony as a basis for issuing a search warrant is permissible under the Fourth Amendment. Campbell v. Minnesota, 487 F.2d 1 (8th Cir. 1973); United States ex rel. Gaugler v. Brierley, 477 F.2d 516 (3d Cir. 1973); Tabasko v. Barton, 472 F.2d 871 (6th Cir. 1972); Frazier v. Roberts, 441 F.2d 1224 (8th Cir. 1971). Thus, the procedure authorized under subdivision (c)(2) is not objectionable on the ground that the oral statement is not transcribed in advance of the issuance of the warrant. People v. Peck, 38 Cal.App.3d 993, 113 Cal.Rptr. 806 (1974). Although it has been questioned whether oral testimony will suffice under the Fourth Amendment if some kind of contemporaneous record is not made of that testimony, see dissent from denial of certiorari in Christofferson v. Washington, 393 U.S. 1090 (1969), this problem is not present under the procedure set out in subdivision (c)(2).
The Fourth Amendment requires that warrants issue “upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation.” The significance of the oath requirement is “that someone must take the responsibility for the facts alleged, giving rise to the probable cause for the issuance of a warrant.” United States ex rel. Pugh v. Pate, 401 F.2d 6 (7th Cir. 1968); See also Frazier v. Roberts, 441 F.2d 1224 (8th Cir. 1971). This is accomplished under the procedure required by subdivision (c)(2); the need for an oath under the Fourth Amendment does not “require a face to face confrontation between the magistrate and the affiant.” People v. Chavaz, 27 Cal.App.3d 883, 104 Cal.Rptr. 247 (1972). See also People v. Aguirre, 26 Cal.App.3d 7, 103 Cal.Rptr. 153 (1972), noting it is unnecessary that “oral statements [be] taken in the physical presence of the magistrate.”
The availability of the procedure authorized by subdivision (c)(2) will minimize the necessity of federal law enforcement officers engaging in other practices which, at least on occasion, might threaten to a greater extent those values protected by the Fourth Amendment. Although it is permissible for an officer in the field to relay his information by radio or telephone to another officer who has more ready access to a magistrate and who will thus act as the affiant, Lopez v. United States, 370 F.2d 8 (5th Cir. 1966); State v. Banks, 250 N.C. 728, 110 S.E.2d 322 (1959), that procedure is less desirable than that permitted under subdivision (c)(2), for it deprives “the magistrate of the opportunity to examine the officer at the scene, who is in a much better position to answer questions relating to probable cause and the requisite scope of the search.” Israel, Legislative Regulation of Searches and Seizures: The Michigan Proposals, 73 Mich.L.Rev. 221, 260 (1975). Or, in the absence of the subdivision (c)(2) procedure, officers might take “protective custody” of the premises and occupants for a significant period of time while a search warrant was sought by traditional means. The extent to which the “protective custody” procedure may be employed consistent with the Fourth Amendment is uncertain at best; see Griswold, Criminal Procedure, 1969—Is It a Means or an End?, 29 Md.L.Rev. 307, 317 (1969). The unavailability of the subdivision (c)(2) procedure also makes more tempting an immediate resort to a warrantless search in the hope that the circumstances will later be found to have been sufficiently “exigent” to justify such a step. See Miller, Telephonic Search Warrants: The San Diego Experience, 9 The Prosecutor 385, 386 (1974), noting a dramatic increase in police utilization of the warrant process following enactment of a telephonic warrant statute.
Notes of Committee on the Judiciary, Senate Report No. 95–354; 1977 Amendments Proposed by the Supreme Court
The committee agrees with the Supreme Court that it is desirable to encourage Federal law enforcement officers to seek search warrants in situations where they might otherwise conduct warrantless searches by providing for a telephone search warrant procedure with the basic characteristics suggested in the proposed Rule 41(c)(2). As the Supreme Court has observed, “It is a cardinal rule that, in seizing goods and articles, law enforcement agents must secure and use search warrants whenever reasonably practicable.” After consideration of the Supreme Court version and a proposal set forth in H.R. 7888, the committee decided to use the language of the House bill as the vehicle, with certain modifications.
A new provision, as indicated in subparagraph (c)(2)(A), is added to establish a procedure for the issuance of a search warrant where the circumstances make it reasonable to dispense with a written affidavit to be presented in person to a magistrate. At least two States have adopted a similar procedure—Arizona and California—and comparable amendments are under consideration in other jurisdictions. Such a procedure has been strongly recommended by the National Advisory Commission on Criminal Justice Standards and Goals and State experience with the procedure has been favorable. The telephone search warrant process has been upheld as constitutional by the courts and has consistently been so viewed by commentators.
In recommending a telephone search warrant procedure, the Advisory Committee note on the Supreme Court proposal points out that the preferred method of conducting a search is with a search warrant. The note indicates that the rationale for the proposed change is to encourage Federal law enforcement officers to seek search warrants in situations when they might otherwise conduct warrantless searches. “Federal law enforcement officers are not infrequently confronted with situations in which the circumstances are not sufficiently ‘exigent’ to justify the serious step of conducting a warrantless search of private premises, but yet there exists a significant possibility that critical evidence would be lost in the time it would take to obtain a search warrant by traditional means.”
Subparagraph (c)(2)(B) provides that the person requesting the warrant shall prepare a “duplicate original warrant” which will be read and recorded verbatim by the magistrate on an “original warrant.” The magistrate may direct that the warrant be modified.
Subparagraph (c)(2)(C) provides that, if the magistrate is satisfied that the circumstances are such as to make it reasonable to dispense with a written affidavit and that grounds for the application exist or there is probable cause to believe that they exist, he shall order the issuance of the warrant by directing the requestor to sign the magistrate's name on the duplicate original warrant. The magistrate is required to sign the original warrant and enter the time of issuance thereon. The finding of probable cause may be based on the same type of evidence appropriate for a warrant upon affidavit.
Subparagraph (c)(2)(D) requires the magistrate to place the requestor and any witness under oath and, if a voice recording device is available, to record the proceeding. If a voice recording is not available, the proceeding must be recorded verbatim stenographically or in longhand. Verified copies must be filed with the court as specified.
Subparagraph (c)(2)(E) provides that the contents of the warrant upon oral testimony shall be the same as the contents of a warrant upon affidavit.
Subparagraph (c)(2)(F) provides that the person who executes the warrant shall enter the exact time of execution on the face of the duplicate original warrant. Unlike H.R. 7888, this subparagraph does not require the person who executes the warrant to have physical possession of the duplicate original warrant at the time of the execution of the warrant. The committee believes this would make an unwise and unnecessary distinction between execution of regular warrants issued on written affidavits and warrants issued by telephone that would limit the flexibility and utility of this procedure for no useful purpose.
Finally, subparagraph (c)(2)(G) makes it clear that, absent a finding of bad faith by the government, the magistrate's judgment that the circumstances made it reasonable to dispense with a written affidavit—a decision that does not go to the core question of whether there was probable cause to issue a warrant—is not a ground for granting a motion to suppress evidence.
Congressional Modification of Proposed 1977 Amendment
Section 2(e) of Pub. L. 95–78 provided in part that the amendment by the Supreme Court [in its order of Apr. 26, 1976] to subdivision (c) of rule 41 of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure [subd. (c) of this rule] is approved in a modified form.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1979 Amendment
This amendment to Rule 41 is intended to make it possible for a search warrant to issue to search for a person under two circumstances: (i) when there is probable cause to arrest that person; or (ii) when that person is being unlawfully restrained. There may be instances in which a search warrant would be required to conduct a search in either of these circumstances. Even when a search warrant would not be required to enter a place to search for a person, a procedure for obtaining a warrant should be available so that law enforcement officers will be encouraged to resort to the preferred alternative of acquiring “an objective predetermination of probable cause” Katz v. United States, 389 U.S. 347, 88 S.Ct. 507, 19 L.Ed.2d 576 (1967), in this instance, that the person sought is at the place to be searched.
That part of the amendment which authorizes issuance of a search warrant to search for a person unlawfully restrained is consistent with ALI Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure §SS 210.3(1)(d) (Proposed Official Draft, 1975), which specifies that a search warrant may issue to search for “an individual * * * who is unlawfully held in confinement or other restraint.” As noted in the Commentary thereto, id. at p. 507:
Ordinarily such persons will be held against their will and in that case the persons are, of course, not subject to “seizure.” But they are, in a sense, “evidence” of crime, and the use of search warrants for these purposes presents no conceptual difficulties.
Some state search warrant provisions also provide for issuance of a warrant in these circumstances. See, e. g., Ill.Rev.Stat. ch. 38, §108–3 (“Any person who has been kidnapped in violation of the laws of this State, or who has been kidnapped in another jurisdiction and is now concealed within this State”).
It may be that very often exigent circumstances, especially the need to act very promptly to protect the life or well-being of the kidnap victim, would justify an immediate warrantless search for the person restrained. But this is not inevitably the case. Moreover, as noted above there should be available a process whereby law enforcement agents may acquire in advance a judicial determination that they have cause to intrude upon the privacy of those at the place where the victim is thought to be located.
That part of the amendment which authorizes issuance of a search warrant to search for a person to be arrested is also consistent with ALI Model Code of Pre-Arraignment Procedure §SS 210.3(1)(d) (Proposed Official Draft, 1975), which states that a search warrant may issue to search for “an individual for whose arrest there is reasonable cause.” As noted in the Commentary thereto, id. at p. 507, it is desirable that there be “explicit statutory authority for such searches.” Some state search warrant provisions also expressly provide for the issuance of a search warrant to search for a person to be arrested. See, e. g., Del.Code Ann. tit. 11, §2305 (“Persons for whom a warrant of arrest has been issued”). This part of the amendment to Rule 41 covers a defendant or witness for whom an arrest warrant has theretofore issued, or a defendant for whom grounds to arrest exist even though no arrest warrant has theretofore issued. It also covers the arrest of a deportable alien under 8 U.S.C. §1252, whose presence at a certain place might be important evidence of criminal conduct by another person, such as the harboring of undocumented aliens under 8 U.S.C. §1324(a)(3).
In United States v. Watson, 423 U.S. 411, 96 S.Ct. 820, 46 L.Ed.2d 598 (1976), the Court once again alluded to “the still unsettled question” of whether, absent exigent circumstances, officers acting without a warrant may enter private premises to make an arrest. Some courts have indicated that probable cause alone ordinarily is sufficient to support an arrest entry. United States v. Fernandez, 480 F.2d 726 (2d Cir. 1973); United States ex rel. Wright v. Woods, 432 F.2d 1143 (7th Cir. 1970). There exists some authority, however, that except under exigent circumstances a warrant is required to enter the defendant's own premises, United States v. Calhoun, 542 F.2d 1094 (9th Cir. 1976); United States v. Lindsay, 506 F.2d 166 (D.C.Cir. 1974); Dorman v. United States, 435 F.2d 385 (D.C.Cir. 1970), or, at least, to enter the premises of a third party, Virgin Islands v. Gereau, 502 F.2d 914 (3d Cir. 1974); Fisher v. Volz, 496 F.2d 333 (3d Cir. 1974); Huotari v. Vanderport, 380 F.Supp. 645 (D.Minn. 1974).
It is also unclear, assuming a need for a warrant, what kind of warrant is required, although it is sometimes assumed that an arrest warrant will suffice, e. g., United States v. Calhoun, supra; United States v. James, 528 F.2d 999 (5th Cir. 1976). There is a growing body of authority, however, that what is needed to justify entry of the premises of a third party to arrest is a search warrant, e. g., Virgin Islands v. Gereau, supra; Fisher v. Volz, supra. The theory is that if the privacy of this third party is to be protected adequately, what is needed is a probable cause determination by a magistrate that the wanted person is presently within that party's premises. “A warrant for the arrest of a suspect may indicate that the police officer has probable cause to believe the suspect committed the crime; it affords no basis to believe the suspect is in some stranger's home.” Fisher v. Volz, supra.
It has sometimes been contended that a search warrant should be required for a nonexigent entry to arrest even when the premises to be entered are those of the person to be arrested. Rotenberg & Tanzer, Searching for the Person to be Seized, 35 Ohio St.L.J. 56, 69 (1974). Case authority in support is lacking, and it may be that the protections of a search warrant are less important in such a situation because ordinarily “rudimentary police procedure dictates that a suspect's residence be eliminated as a possible hiding place before a search is conducted elsewhere.” People v. Sprovieri, 95 Ill.App.2d 10, 238 N.E.2d 115 (1968).
Despite these uncertainties, the fact remains that in some circuits under some circumstances a search warrant is required to enter private premises to arrest. Moreover, the law on this subject is in a sufficient state of uncertainty that this position may be taken by other courts. It is thus important that Rule 41 clearly express that a search warrant for this purpose may issue. And even if future decisions head the other direction, the need for the amendment would still exist. It is clear that law enforcement officers “may not constitutionally enter the home of a private individual to search for another person, though he be named in a valid arrest warrant in their possession, absent probable cause to believe that the named suspect is present within at the time.” Fisher v. Volz, supra. The cautious officer is entitled to a procedure whereby he may have this probable cause determination made by a neutral and detached magistrate in advance of the entry.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1987 Amendment
The amendments are technical. No substantive change is intended.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1989 Amendment
The amendment to Rule 41(e) conforms the rule to the practice in most districts and eliminates language that is somewhat confusing. The Supreme Court has upheld warrants for the search and seizure of property in the possession of persons who are not suspected of criminal activity. See, e.g., Zurcher v. Stanford Daily, 436 U.S. 547 (1978). Before the amendment, Rule 41(e) permitted such persons to seek return of their property if they were aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure. But, the rule failed to address the harm that may result from the interference with the lawful use of property by persons who are not suspected of wrongdoing. Courts have recognized that once the government no longer has a need to use evidence, it should be returned. See, e.g., United States v. Wilson, 540 F.2d 1100 (D.C. Cir. 1976). Prior to the amendment, Rule 41(e) did not explicitly recognize a right of a property owner to obtain return of lawfully seized property even though the government might be able to protect its legitimate law enforcement interests in the property despite its return—e.g., by copying documents or by conditioning the return on government access to the property at a future time. As amended, Rule 41(e) provides that an aggrieved person may seek return of property that has been unlawfully seized, and a person whose property has been lawfully seized may seek return of property when aggrieved by the government's continued possession of it.
No standard is set forth in the rule to govern the determination of whether property should be returned to a person aggrieved either by an unlawful seizure or by deprivation of the property. The fourth amendment protects people from unreasonable seizures as well as unreasonable searches, United States v. Place, 462 U.S. 696, 701 (1983), and reasonableness under all of the circumstances must be the test when a person seeks to obtain the return of property. If the United States has a need for the property in an investigation or prosecution, its retention of the property generally is reasonable. But, if the United States’ legitimate interests can be satisfied even if the property is returned, continued retention of the property would become unreasonable.
The amendment deletes language dating from 1944 stating that evidence shall not be admissible at a hearing or at a trial if the court grants the motion to return property under Rule 41(e). This language has not kept pace with the development of exclusionary rule doctrine and is currently only confusing. The Supreme Court has now held that evidence seized in violation of the fourth amendment, but in good faith pursuant to a warrant, may be used even against a person aggrieved by the constitutional violation. United States v. Leon, 468 U.S. 897 (1984). The Court has also held that illegally seized evidence may be admissible against persons who are not personally aggrieved by an illegal search or seizure. Rakas v. Illinois, 439 U.S. 128 (1978). Property that is inadmissible for one purpose (e.g., as part of the government's case-in-chief) may be admissible for another purpose (e.g., impeachment, United States v. Havens, 446 U.S. 620 (1980)). Federal courts have relied upon these decisions and permitted the government to retain and to use evidence as permitted by the fourth amendment.
Rule 41(e) is not intended to deny the United States the use of evidence permitted by the fourth amendment and federal statutes, even if the evidence might have been unlawfully seized. See, e.g., United States v. Calandra, 414 U.S. 338, 349 n.6 (1978) (“Rule 41(e) does not constitute a statutory expansion of the exclusionary rule.”); United States v. Roberts, 852 F.2d 671 (2nd Cir. 1988) (exceptions to exclusionary rule applicable to Rule 41(e)). Thus, the exclusionary provision is deleted, and the scope of the exclusionary rule is reserved for judicial decisions.
In opting for a reasonableness approach and in deleting the exclusionary language, the Committee rejects the analysis of Sovereign News Co. v. United States, 690 F.2d 569 (6th Cir. 1982), cert. denied, 464 U.S. 814 (1983), which held that the United States must return photocopies of lawfully seized business records unless it could demonstrate that the records were “necessary for a specific investigation.” As long as the government has a law enforcement purpose in copying records, there is no reason why it should be saddled with a heavy burden of justifying the copying. Although some cases have held that the government must return copies of records where the originals were illegally seized—See, e.g., United States v. Wallace & Tiernan Co., 336 U.S. 793, 801 (1948); Goodman v. United States, 369 F.2d 166 (9th Cir. 1966)—these holdings are questionable in situations in which the government is permitted under Supreme Court decisions to use illegally seized evidence, and their reasoning does not apply to legally seized evidence.
As amended, Rule 41(e) avoids an all or nothing approach whereby the government must either return records and make no copies or keep originals notwithstanding the hardship to their owner. The amended rule recognizes that reasonable accommodations might protect both the law enforcement interests of the United States and the property rights of property owners and holders. In many instances documents and records that are relevant to ongoing or contemplated investigations and prosecutions may be returned to their owner as long as the government preserves a copy for future use. In some circumstances, however, equitable considerations might justify an order requiring the government to return or destroy all copies of records that it has seized. See, e.g., Paton v. LaPrade, 524 F.2d 862, 867–69 (3rd Cir. 1975). The amended rule contemplates judicial action that will respect both possessory and law enforcement interests.
The word “judge” is changed to “court” in the second sentence of subdivision (e) to clarify that a magistrate may receive evidence in the course of making a finding or a proposed finding for consideration by the district judge.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1990 Amendment
Rule 41(a). The amendment to Rule 41(a) serves several purposes. First, it furthers the constitutional preference for warrants by providing a mechanism whereby a warrant may be issued in a district for a person or property that is moving into or through a district or might move outside the district while the warrant is sought or executed. Second, it clarifies the authority of federal magistrates to issue search warrants for property that is relevant to criminal investigation being conducted in a district and, although located outside the United States, that is in a place where the United States may lawfully conduct a search.
The amendment is not intended to expand the class of persons authorized to request a warrant and the language “upon request of a federal law enforcement officer,” modifies all warrants covered by Rule 41. The amendment is intended to make clear that judges of state courts of record within a federal district may issue search warrants for persons or property located within that district. The amendment does not prescribe the circumstances in which a warrant is required and is not intended to change the law concerning warrant requirements. Rather the rule provides a mechanism for the issuance of a warrant when one is required, or when a law enforcement officer desires to seek a warrant even though warrantless activity is permissible.
Rule 41(a)(1) permits anticipatory warrants by omitting the words “is located,” which in the past required that in all instances the object of the search had to be located within the district at the time the warrant was issued. Now a search for property or a person within the district, or expected to be within the district, is valid if it otherwise complies with the rule.
Rule 41(a)(2) authorizes execution of search warrants in another district under limited circumstances. Because these searches are unusual, the rule limits to federal magistrates the authority to issue such warrants. The rule permits a federal magistrate to issue a search warrant for property within the district which is moving or may move outside the district. The amendment recognizes that there are inevitable delays between the application for a warrant and its authorization, on the one hand, and the execution of the warrant, on the other hand. The amendment also recognizes that when property is in motion, there may be good reason to delay execution until the property comes to rest. The amendment provides a practical tool for federal law enforcement officers that avoids the necessity of their either seeking several warrants in different districts for the same property or their relying on an exception to the warrant requirement for search of property or a person that has moved outside a district.
The amendment affords a useful warrant procedure to cover familiar fact patterns, like the one typified by United States v. Chadwick, 433 U.S. 1 (1976). In Chadwick, agents in San Diego observed suspicious activities involving a footlocker carried onto a train. When the train arrived in Boston, the agents made an arrest and conducted a warrantless search of the footlocker (which the Supreme Court held was invalid). Under the amended rule, agents who have probable cause in San Diego would be able to obtain a warrant for a search of the footlocker even though it is moving outside the district. Agents, who will not be sure exactly where the footlocker will be unloaded from the train, may execute the warrant when the journey ends. See also United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705 (1984) (rejecting argument that obtaining warrant to monitor beeper would not comply with requirement of particularity because its final destination may not be known); United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983) (agents followed beeper across state lines). The Supreme Court's holding in Chadwick permits law enforcement officers to seize and hold an object like a footlocker while seeking a warrant. Although the amended rule would not disturb this holding, it provides a mechanism for agents to seek a probable cause determination and a warrant before interfering with the property and seizing it. It encourages reliance on warrants.
The amendment is not intended to abrogate the requirements of probable cause and prompt execution. At some point, a warrant issued in one district might become stale when executed in another district. But staleness can be a problem even when a warrant is executed in the district in which it was issued. See generally United States v. Harris, 403 U.S. 573, 579, 589 (1971). And at some point, an intervening event might make execution of a warrant unreasonable. Cf. Illinois v. Andreas, 463 U.S. 765, 772 (1983). Evaluations of the execution of a warrant must, in the nature of things, be made after the warrant is issued.
Nor does the amendment abrogate the requirement of particularity. Thus, it does not authorize searches of premises other than a particular place. As recognized by the Supreme Court in Karo, supra, although agents may not know exactly where moving property will come to rest, they can still describe with particularity the object to be searched.
The amendment would authorize the search of a particular object or container provided that law enforcement officials were otherwise in a lawful position to execute the search without making an impermissible intrusion. For example, it would authorize the search of luggage moving aboard a plane.
Rule 41(a)(3) [The Supreme Court did not adopt the addition of a subsection (3) to Rule 41(a)] provides for warrants to search property outside the United States. No provision for search warrants for persons is made lest the rule be read as a substitute for extradition proceedings. As with the provision for searches outside a district, supra, this provision is limited to search warrants issued by federal magistrates. The phrase “relevant to criminal investigation” is intended to encompass all of the types of property that are covered by Rule 41(b), which is unchanged by the amendment. That phrase also is intended to include those investigations which begin with the request for the search warrant.
Some searches and seizures by federal officers outside the territory of the United States may be governed by the fourth amendment. See generally Saltzburg, the Reach of the Bill of Rights Beyond the Terra Firma of the United States, 20 Va. J. Int'l L. 741 (1980). Prior to the amendment of the rule, it was unclear how federal officers might obtain warrants authorizing searches outside the district of the issuing magistrate. Military Rule of Evidence 315 provided guidance for searches of military personnel and property and nonmilitary property in a foreign country. But it had no civilian counterpart. See generally S. Saltzburg, L. Schinasi, & D. Schlueter, Military Rules of Evidence Manual 274–95 (2d ed. 1986).
Although the amendment rests on the assumption that the Constitution applies to some extraterritorial searches, cf United States v. Verdugo-Urquidez, 110 S. Ct. 1056, 494 U.S. 259 (1990) (fourth amendment inapplicable to extraterritorial searches of property owned by nonresident aliens), it does not address the question of when the Constitution requires a warrant. Nor does it address the issue of whether international agreements or treaties or the law of a foreign nation might be applicable. See United States v. Patterson, 812 F. 2d 486 (9th Cir. 1987). Instead, the amendment is intended to provide necessary clarification as to how a warrant may be obtained when law enforcement officials are required, or find it desirable, to do so.
Notes of Advisory Committee on Rules—1993 Amendment
The amendment to Rule 41(c)(2)(A) is intended to expand the authority of magistrates and judges in considering oral requests for search warrants. It also recognizes the value of, and the public's increased dependence on facsimile machines to transmit written information efficiently and accurately. As amended, the Rule should thus encourage law enforcement officers to seek a warrant, especially when it is necessary, or desirable, to supplement oral telephonic communications by written materials which may now be transmitted electronically as well. The magistrate issuing the warrant may require that the original affidavit be ultimately filed. The Committee considered, but rejected, amendments to the Rule which would have permitted other means of electronic transmission, such as the use of computer modems. In its view, facsimile transmissions provide some method of assuring the authenticity of the writing transmitted by the affiant.
The Committee considered amendments to Rule 41(c)(2)(B), Application, Rule 41(c)(2)(C), Issuance, and Rule 41(g), Return of Papers to Clerk, but determined that allowing use of facsimile transmissions in those instances would not save time and would present problems and questions concerning the need to preserve facsimile copies.
The Rule is also amended to conform to the Judicial Improvements Act of 1990 [P.L. 101–650, Title III, Section 321] which provides that each United States magistrate appointed under section 631 of title 28, United States Code, shall be known as a United States magistrate judge.
Committee Notes on Rules—2002 Amendment
The language of Rule 41 has been amended as part of the general restyling of the Criminal Rules to make them more easily understood and to make style and terminology consistent throughout the rules. These changes are intended to be stylistic only, except as otherwise noted below. Rule 41 has been completely reorganized to make it easier to read and apply its key provisions.
Rule 41(b)(3) is a new provision that incorporates a congressional amendment to Rule 41 as a part of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT ACT) Act of 2001. The provision explicitly addresses the authority of a magistrate judge to issue a search warrant in an investigation of domestic or international terrorism. As long as the magistrate judge has authority in a district where activities related to terrorism may have occurred, the magistrate judge may issue a warrant for persons or property not only within the district, but outside the district as well.
Current Rule 41(c)(1), which refers to the fact that hearsay evidence may be used to support probable cause, has been deleted. That language was added to the rule in 1972, apparently to reflect emerging federal case law. See Advisory Committee Note to 1972 Amendments to Rule 41 (citing cases). Similar language was added to Rule 4 in 1974. In the intervening years, however, the case law has become perfectly clear on that proposition. Thus, the Committee believed that the reference to hearsay was no longer necessary. Furthermore, the limited reference to hearsay evidence was misleading to the extent that it might have suggested that other forms of inadmissible evidence could not be considered. For example, the rule made no reference to considering a defendant's prior criminal record, which clearly may be considered in deciding whether probable cause exists. See, e.g., Brinegar v. United States, 338 U.S. 160 (1949) (officer's knowledge of defendant's prior criminal activity). Rather than address that issue, or any other similar issues, the Committee believed that the matter was best addressed in Rule 1101(d)(3), Federal Rules of Evidence. That rule explicitly provides that the Federal Rules of Evidence do not apply to “preliminary examinations in criminal cases, . . . issuance of warrants for arrest, criminal summonses, and search warrants . . . .” The Advisory Committee Note accompanying that rule recognizes that: “The nature of the proceedings makes application of the formal rules of evidence inappropriate and impracticable.” The Committee did not intend to make any substantive changes in practice by deleting the reference to hearsay evidence.
Current Rule 41(d) provides that the officer taking the property under the warrant must provide a receipt for the property and complete an inventory. The revised rule indicates that the inventory may be completed by an officer present during the execution of the warrant, and not necessarily the officer actually executing the warrant.
Committee Notes on Rules—2006 Amendment
The amendments to Rule 41 address three issues: first, procedures for issuing tracking device warrants; second, a provision for delaying any notice required by the rule; and third, a provision permitting a magistrate judge to use reliable electronic means to issue warrants.
Subdivision (a). Amended Rule 41(a)(2) includes two new definitional provisions. The first, in Rule 41(a)(2)(D), addresses the definitions of “domestic terrorism” and “international terrorism,” terms used in Rule 41(b)(2). The second, in Rule 41(a)(2)(E), addresses the definition of “tracking device.”
Subdivision (b). Amended Rule 41(b)(4) is a new provision, designed to address the use of tracking devices. Such searches are recognized both by statute, see 18 U.S.C. §3117 (a) and by caselaw, see, e.g., United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705 (1984); United States v. Knotts, 460 U.S. 276 (1983). Warrants may be required to monitor tracking devices when they are used to monitor persons or property in areas where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy. See, e.g., United States v. Karo, supra (although no probable cause was required to install beeper, officers’ monitoring of its location in defendant's home raised Fourth Amendment concerns). Nonetheless, there is no procedural guidance in current Rule 41 for those judicial officers who are asked to issue tracking device warrants. As with traditional search warrants for persons or property, tracking device warrants may implicate law enforcement interests in multiple districts.
The amendment provides that a magistrate judge may issue a warrant, if he or she has the authority to do so in the district, to install and use a tracking device, as that term is defined in 18 U.S.C. §3117 (b). The magistrate judge's authority under this rule includes the authority to permit entry into an area where there is a reasonable expectation of privacy, installation of the tracking device, and maintenance and removal of the device. The Committee did not intend by this amendment to expand or contract the definition of what might constitute a tracking device. The amendment is based on the understanding that the device will assist officers only in tracking the movements of a person or property. The warrant may authorize officers to track the person or property within the district of issuance, or outside the district.
Because the authorized tracking may involve more than one district or state, the Committee believes that only federal judicial officers should be authorized to issue this type of warrant. Even where officers have no reason to believe initially that a person or property will move outside the district of issuance, issuing a warrant to authorize tracking both inside and outside the district avoids the necessity of obtaining multiple warrants if the property or person later crosses district or state lines.
The amendment reflects the view that if the officers intend to install or use the device in a constitutionally protected area, they must obtain judicial approval to do so. If, on the other hand, the officers intend to install and use the device without implicating any Fourth Amendment rights, there is no need to obtain the warrant. See, e.g., United States v. Knotts, supra, where the officers’ actions in installing and following tracking device did not amount to a search under the Fourth Amendment.
Subdivision (d). Amended Rule 41(d) includes new language on tracking devices. The tracking device statute, 18 U.S.C. §3117, does not specify the standard an applicant must meet to install a tracking device. The Supreme Court has acknowledged that the standard for installation of a tracking device is unresolved, and has reserved ruling on the issue until it is squarely presented by the facts of a case. See United States v. Karo, 468 U.S. 705, 718 n. 5 (1984). The amendment to Rule 41 does not resolve this issue or hold that such warrants may issue only on a showing of probable cause. Instead, it simply provides that if probable cause is shown, the magistrate judge must issue the warrant. And the warrant is only needed if the device is installed (for example, in the trunk of the defendant's car) or monitored (for example, while the car is in the defendant's garage) in an area in which the person being monitored has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
Subdivision (e). Rule 41(e) has been amended to permit magistrate judges to use reliable electronic means to issue warrants. Currently, the rule makes no provision for using such media. The amendment parallels similar changes to Rules 5 and 32.1(a)(5)(B)(i).
The amendment recognizes the significant improvements in technology. First, more counsel, courts, and magistrate judges now routinely use facsimile transmissions of documents. And many courts and magistrate judges are now equipped to receive filings by electronic means. Indeed, some courts encourage or require that certain documents be filed by electronic means. Second, the technology has advanced to the state where such filings may be sent from, and received at, locations outside the courthouse. Third, electronic media can now provide improved quality of transmission and security measures. In short, in a particular case, using facsimiles and electronic media to transmit a warrant can be both reliable and efficient use of judicial resources.
The term “electronic” is used to provide some flexibility to the rule and make allowance for further technological advances in transmitting data. Although facsimile transmissions are not specifically identified, the Committee envisions that facsimile transmissions would fall within the meaning of “electronic means.”
While the rule does not impose any special requirements on use of facsimile transmissions, neither does it presume that those transmissions are reliable. The rule treats all electronic transmissions in a similar fashion. Whatever the mode, the means used must be “reliable.” While the rule does not further define that term, the Committee envisions that a court or magistrate judge would make that determination as a local matter. In deciding whether a particular electronic means, or media, would be reliable, the court might consider first, the expected quality and clarity of the transmission. For example, is it possible to read the contents of the warrant in its entirety, as though it were the original or a clean photocopy? Second, the court may consider whether security measures are available to insure that the transmission is not compromised. In this regard, most courts are now equipped to require that certain documents contain a digital signature, or some other similar system for restricting access. Third, the court may consider whether there are reliable means of preserving the document for later use.
Amended Rule 41(e)(2)(B) is a new provision intended to address the contents of tracking device warrants. To avoid open-ended monitoring of tracking devices, the revised rule requires the magistrate judge to specify in the warrant the length of time for using the device. Although the initial time stated in the warrant may not exceed 45 days, extensions of time may be granted for good cause. The rule further specifies that any installation of a tracking device authorized by the warrant must be made within ten calendar days and, unless otherwise provided, that any installation occur during daylight hours.
Subdivision (f). Current Rule 41(f) has been completely revised to accommodate new provisions dealing with tracking device warrants. First, current Rule 41(f)(1) has been revised to address execution and delivery of warrants to search for and seize a person or property; no substantive change has been made to that provision. New Rule 41(f)(2) addresses execution and delivery of tracking device warrants. That provision generally tracks the structure of revised Rule 41(f)(1), with appropriate adjustments for the particular requirements of tracking device warrants. Under Rule 41(f)(2)(A) the officer must note on the warrant the time the device was installed and the period during which the device was used. And under new Rule 41(f)(2)(B), the officer must return the tracking device warrant to the magistrate judge designated in the warrant, within 10 calendar days after use of the device has ended.
Amended Rule 41(f)(2)(C) addresses the particular problems of serving a copy of a tracking device warrant on the person who has been tracked, or whose property has been tracked. In the case of other warrants, current Rule 41 envisions that the subjects of the search typically know that they have been searched, usually within a short period of time after the search has taken place. Tracking device warrants, on the other hand, are by their nature covert intrusions and can be successfully used only when the person being investigated is unaware that a tracking device is being used. The amendment requires that the officer must serve a copy of the tracking device warrant on the person within 10 calendar days after the tracking has ended. That service may be accomplished by either personally serving the person, or both by leaving a copy at the person's residence or usual abode and by sending a copy by mail. The Rule also provides, however, that the officer may (for good cause) obtain the court's permission to delay further service of the warrant. That might be appropriate, for example, where the owner of the tracked property is undetermined, or where the officer establishes that the investigation is ongoing and that disclosure of the warrant will compromise that investigation.
Use of a tracking device is to be distinguished from other continuous monitoring or observations that are governed by statutory provisions or caselaw. See Title III, Omnibus Crime Control and Safe Streets Act of 1968, as amended by Title I of the 1986 Electronic Communications Privacy Act [Electronic Communications Privacy Act of 1986], 18 U.S.C. §§2510 –2520 [sic]; United States v. Biasucci, 786 F.2d 504 (2d Cir. 1986) (video camera); United States v. Torres, 751 F.2d 875 (7th Cir. 1984) (television surveillance).
Finally, amended Rule 41(f)(3) is a new provision that permits the government to request, and the magistrate judge to grant, a delay in any notice required in Rule 41. The amendment is co-extensive with 18 U.S.C. §3103a (b). That new provision, added as part of the Uniting and Strengthening America by Providing Appropriate Tools Required to Intercept and Obstruct Terrorism (USA PATRIOT) Act of 2001, authorizes a court to delay any notice required in conjunction with the issuance of any search warrants.
Changes Made After Publication and Comment. The Committee agreed with the NADCL [sic] proposal that the words “has authority” should be inserted in Rule 41(c)(3), and (4) to parallel similar language in Rule 41(c)(1) and (2). The Committee also considered, but rejected, a proposal from NADCL [sic] to completely redraft Rule 41(d), regarding the finding of probable cause. The Committee also made minor clarifying changes in the Committee Note.
Committee Notes on Rules—2008 Amendment
Subdivision (b)(5). Rule 41(b)(5) authorizes a magistrate judge to issue a search warrant for property located within certain delineated parts of United States jurisdiction that are outside of any State or any federal judicial district. The locations covered by the rule include United States territories, possessions, and commonwealths not within a federal judicial district as well as certain premises associated with United States diplomatic and consular missions. These are locations in which the United States has a legally cognizable interest or in which it exerts lawful authority and control. The rule is intended to authorize a magistrate judge to issue a search warrant in any of the locations for which 18 U.S.C. §7 (9) provides jurisdiction. The difference between the language in this rule and the statute reflect the style conventions used in these rules, rather than any intention to alter the scope of the legal authority conferred. Under the rule, a warrant may be issued by a magistrate judge in any district in which activities related to the crime under investigation may have occurred, or in the District of Columbia, which serves as the default district for venue under 18 U.S.C. §3238.
Rule 41(b)(5) provides the authority to issue warrants for the seizure of property in the designated locations when law enforcement officials are required or find it desirable to obtain such warrants. The Committee takes no position on the question whether the Constitution requires a warrant for searches covered by the rule, or whether any international agreements, treaties, or laws of a foreign nation might be applicable. The rule does not address warrants for persons, which could be viewed as inconsistent with extradition requirements.
Changes Made to Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment. With the assistance of the Style Consultant, the Committee revised (b)(5)(B) and (C) for greater clarity and compliance with the style conventions governing these rules. Because the language no longer tracks precisely the statute, the Committee Note was revised to state that the proposed rule is intended to have the same scope as the jurisdictional provision upon which it was based, 18 U.S.C. §7 (9).
Committee Notes on Rules—2009 Amendment
The time set in the former rule at 10 days has been revised to 14 days. See the Committee Note to Rule 45(a).
Subdivision (e)(2). Computers and other electronic storage media commonly contain such large amounts of information that it is often impractical for law enforcement to review all of the information during execution of the warrant at the search location. This rule acknowledges the need for a two-step process: officers may seize or copy the entire storage medium and review it later to determine what electronically stored information falls within the scope of the warrant.
The term “electronically stored information” is drawn from Rule 34(a) of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure, which states that it includes “writings, drawings, graphs, charts, photographs, sound recordings, images, and other data or data compilations stored in any medium from which information can be obtained.” The 2006 Committee Note to Rule 34(a) explains that the description is intended to cover all current types of computer-based information and to encompass future changes and developments. The same broad and flexible description is intended under Rule 41.
In addition to addressing the two-step process inherent in searches for electronically stored information, the Rule limits the 10  day execution period to the actual execution of the warrant and the on-site activity. While consideration was given to a presumptive national or uniform time period within which any subsequent off-site copying or review of the media or electronically stored information would take place, the practical reality is that there is no basis for a “one size fits all” presumptive period. A substantial amount of time can be involved in the forensic imaging and review of information. This is due to the sheer size of the storage capacity of media, difficulties created by encryption and booby traps, and the workload of the computer labs. The rule does not prevent a judge from imposing a deadline for the return of the storage media or access to the electronically stored information at the time the warrant is issued. However, to arbitrarily set a presumptive time period for the return could result in frequent petitions to the court for additional time.
It was not the intent of the amendment to leave the property owner without an expectation of the timing for return of the property, excluding contraband or instrumentalities of crime, or a remedy. Current Rule 41(g) already provides a process for the “person aggrieved” to seek an order from the court for a return of the property, including storage media or electronically stored information, under reasonable circumstances.
Where the “person aggrieved” requires access to the storage media or the electronically stored information earlier than anticipated by law enforcement or ordered by the court, the court on a case by case basis can fashion an appropriate remedy, taking into account the time needed to image and search the data and any prejudice to the aggrieved party.
The amended rule does not address the specificity of description that the Fourth Amendment may require in a warrant for electronically stored information, leaving the application of this and other constitutional standards concerning both the seizure and the search to ongoing case law development.
Subdivision (f)(1). Current Rule 41(f)(1) does not address the question of whether the inventory should include a description of the electronically stored information contained in the media seized. Where it is impractical to record a description of the electronically stored information at the scene, the inventory may list the physical storage media seized. Recording a description of the electronically stored information at the scene is likely to be the exception, and not the rule, given the large amounts of information contained on electronic storage media and the impracticality for law enforcement to image and review all of the information during the execution of the warrant. This is consistent with practice in the “paper world.” In circumstances where filing cabinets of documents are seized, routine practice is to list the storage devices, i.e., the cabinets, on the inventory, as opposed to making a document by document list of the contents.
Changes Made to Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment. The words “copying or” were added to the last line of Rule 41(e)(2)(B) to clarify that copying as well as review may take place off-site.
The Committee Note was amended to reflect the change to the text and to clarify that the amended Rule does not speak to constitutional questions concerning warrants for electronic information. Issues of particularity and search protocol are presently working their way through the courts. Compare United States v. Carey, 172 F.3d 1268 (10th Cir. 1999) (finding warrant authorizing search for “documentary evidence pertaining to the sale and distribution of controlled substances” to prohibit opening of files with a .jpg suffix) and United States v. Fleet Management Ltd., 521 F. Supp. 2d 436 (E.D. Pa. 2007) (warrant invalid when it “did not even attempt to differentiate between data that there was probable cause to seize and data that was completely unrelated to any relevant criminal activity”) with United States v. Comprehensive Drug Testing, Inc., 513 F.3d 1085 (9th Cir. 2008) (the government had no reason to confine its search to key words; “computer files are easy to disguise or rename, and were we to limit the warrant to such a specific search protocol, much evidence could escape discovery simply because of [the defendants’] labeling of the files”); United States v. Brooks, 427 F.3d 1246 (10th Cir. 2005) (rejecting requirement that warrant describe specific search methodology).
Minor changes were also made to conform to style conventions.
Committee Notes on Rules—2011 Amendment
Subdivisions (d)(3) and (e)(3). The amendment deletes the provisions that govern the application for and issuance of warrants by telephone or other reliable electronic means. These provisions have been transferred to new Rule 4.1, which governs complaints and warrants under Rules 3, 4, 9, and 41.
Subdivision (e)(2). The amendment eliminates unnecessary references to “calendar” days. As amended effective December 1, 2009, Rule 45(a)(1) provides that all periods of time stated in days include “every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays[.]”
Subdivisions (f)(1) and (2). The amendment permits any warrant return to be made by reliable electronic means. Requiring an in-person return can be burdensome on law enforcement, particularly in large districts when the return can require a great deal of time and travel. In contrast, no interest of the accused is affected by allowing what is normally a ministerial act to be done electronically. Additionally, in subdivision (f)(2) the amendment eliminates unnecessary references to “calendar” days. As amended effective December 1, 2009, Rule 45(a)(1) provides that all periods of time stated in days include “every day, including intermediate Saturdays, Sundays, and legal holidays[.]”
Changes Made to Proposed Amendment Released for Public Comment
Obsolescent references to “calendar” days were deleted by a technical and conforming amendment not included in the rule as published. No other changes were made after publication.
Amendment by Public Law
2001 —Subd. (a). Pub. L. 107–56 inserted before period at end “and (3) in an investigation of domestic terrorism or international terrorism (as defined in section 2331 of title 18, United States Code), by a Federal magistrate judge in any district in which activities related to the terrorism may have occurred, for a search of property or for a person within or outside the district”.
Effective Date of 1977 Amendment
Amendment of this rule by order of the United States Supreme Court on Apr. 26, 1976, modified and approved by Pub. L. 95–78, effective Oct. 1, 1977, see section 4 of Pub. L. 95–78, set out as an Effective Date of Pub. L. 95–78 note under section 2074 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
Effective Date of 1976 Amendment
Amendment of subd. (c)(1) by order of the United States Supreme Court of Apr. 26, 1976, effective Aug. 1, 1976, see section 1 of Pub. L. 94–349, set out as a note under section 2074 of Title 28, Judiciary and Judicial Procedure.
Effective Date of 1956 Amendment
Amendment by Order of April 9, 1956, became effective 90 days thereafter.