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A "sneak and peek" warrant is a search warrant that allows law enforcement officers to enter and search a premises without immediately notifying the owner when such notice may have an adverse result (e.g., tipping off a suspect or co-conspirators).
Before passage of the USA PATRIOT Act, which explicitly codified and expanded "delayed-notice" ("sneak and peek") search warrants, these warrants were designed for use in criminal cases and exercised on a limited basis.
The USA PATRIOT Act amended Title 18 to allow federal law enforcement officers to request from the courts a "sneak and peek" search warrant allowing officers to enter and search a premises without immediately notifying the owner when such notice may have an adverse result (e.g., tipping off a suspect or co-conspirators).
"Sneak and peek" warrants have been used rarely in terrorism cases. In the first three years for which data were available (October 1, 2006-September 30, 2009), the Director of the Administrative Office of the United States Courts (AO) reported to Congress that 2,332 delayed-notice search warrant requests were made. Drug-related offenses accounted for 1,618 (69.4%) of these. The next largest category of offense for such warrants was fraud (122 warrants, 5.2%). Fifteen requests (less than 1%) were made for terrorism cases. In the following fiscal year 2010, the number of delayed-notice search warrants exceeded those in all three previous years combined with an increase in the percentage of drug-related cases represented (now up to 75%) and still under 1% of cases for terrorism.
- ↑ Pub. L. No. 107-56, §213.
- ↑ Video: Senator Feingold questions Assistant Attorney General David Kris on PATRIOT Act and secret searches.
- ↑ 18 U.S.C. §3103(a), amending Rule 41(f)(3) of the Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure.
- ↑ Director of the Administrative Office (AO) of the United States Courts, Report on Applications for Delayed-Notice Search Warrants and Extensions, for FY2007; FY2008;FY 2009. The USA PATRIOT Act requires the AO to transmit to Congress annually (beginning with data from FY2007) a full and complete report summarizing information reported by judges on delayed-notice search warrants.
- ↑ Director of the Administrative Office (AO) of the United States Courts, Report on Applications for Delayed-Notice Search Warrants and Extensions, for FY2010 (full-text).