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Brandon M.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 12201
Experience:  Attorney
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My husband and I are out of town and we received a call from

Customer Question

My husband and I are out of town and we received a call from the New York State Police stating that they were investigating a claim that our pets were not well looked after while we were away. We own a farm and we had to fire an employee last week. This to us is to much of a coincidence. I asked the police officer who made the complaint and he said "an animal rights activist" I gave him the name of our ex employee and he would not confirm if she was the complainant. What we find interesting is that no one has been given access to our house since we have been away. Our other employee takes care of our dog and is caring for her at his house while we are away and my husband drives back to our home every few days to provide the cats (who are all indoor cats) with ample amounts of food and water. The state trooper was trying to pressure me into letting him and an animal control officer to enter the house. I stated that I would not be back for a few days and he started pressuring me. I sought the advice of an attorney who stated that he would not advise that I agree to access to my home without a search warrant. The police officer made it sound that if I was not providing them with access then I had something to hide. He spoke with my employee who stated that the animals are all being cared for and I even gave him the name of my veterinarian who has been at the farm while I have been away and he did not bother to call my vet.
I guess what I really want to know is how easy will it be for him to get a warrant and does he need an affidavit from his alleged "witness" before applying for one? Also, should I cooperate and give them unfettered access to my home?
Thank you, Lou
Submitted: 2 years ago.
Category: Criminal Law
Expert:  Brandon M. replied 2 years ago.
Hello there:

Thank you for entrusting me with your question. To start, the attorney that you spoke with gave you good advice; I too would have advised that you not allow an unwarranted search of your home. The 4th Amendment guarantee against unwarranted search and seizure is not designed to protect the guilty--it is to protect the innocent. Naturally, the investigating officer wanted you to give permission for the search and naturally he was going to make it seem that you have something to hide. You are a suspect in a criminal investigation. However, law enforcement is in the business of proving people guilty, not innocent, and there is absolutely no reason to cooperate when you are the subject of an investigation. I actually would have taken it a step further and recommended that you not converse with law enforcement at all on this matter from this point forward. You may want to watch this video (follow link).

To get a search warrant, law enforcement must prove to a judge that there is probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed and that the warrant will produce evidence of the crime. This may be accomplished with or without witness statements, but obviously the more information they have to back up the claim that there is probable cause the stronger their case for a warrant would be. The accusations of an anonymous source with nothing else to back it up is generally not enough. However, I feel to an extent that I would be speculating because I don't know what "evidence" they have. It sounds to me like the officer does not believe he has enough to get a warrant (why ask for access if the case for a warrant is strong?), but there is no way of knowing for certain without seeing what was said by whom and how it was backed up.

I understand that you may have follow-up questions. Let me know if further clarification is needed. Thank you.
Brandon M., Counselor at Law
Category: Criminal Law
Satisfied Customers: 12201
Experience: Attorney
Brandon M. and 7 other Criminal Law Specialists are ready to help you
Customer: replied 2 years ago.

The lawyer I spoke with to day called the state police officer and the officer would not tell him anything other than he felt that my speaking with a lawyer meant tha I had something to hide. Additionally, the lawyer called the judge in our town and explalined the situation. As of the close of business today, the police had not applied for a warrant and the judge told the attorney that she would call him first without issuing a warrant.

 

I don't understand why, given that my other employee spole with the police and told them that all was o.k. why the police is putting such pressure on me. My veterinarians are willing to give affidavits to the lawyer in support of the condition of my animals.

 

How worried should I be? As I stated before, if anyone is saying that the animals inside my house are not well cared for then they broke in the house. How credible/serious do you think this situation is?

Expert:  Brandon M. replied 2 years ago.
The police are pushing because they think that you might be guilty and they want your cooperation to prove it. The police are not always the good guys. But it does not matter what a law enforcement officer "thinks"; they are not the decision makers--it is not up to them.

I would not lose any sleep over it, but I would take the matter seriously so that it does not snowball into something else. As I mentioned, I would discontinue all communication with them, and I would watch the video.

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