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Client Alert: Compliance Tips: Responding to Warrants

A visit from law enforcement agents bearing badges and guns and a warrant is an unnerving experience. It’s supposed to be. But such a visit should not cause you or your employees to panic – and it won’t if you are prepared.


A good compliance plan should anticipate the possibility that one day your company could be the subject or target of a criminal investigation, and that investigation could include a surprise search of your files and requests to interview your employees. Your employees should be trained to know what to do if and when an agent arrives with a warrant.


Designate a coordinator. Designate a senior executive responsible for alerting counsel, for handling initial communications with law enforcement agents and the press, and for calming nervous employees.

Criminal defense counsel. Identify experienced criminal defense counsel who can take over communications with law enforcement as soon as possible, ideally local counsel who can be on site as the search is proceeding.

Initial checklist. Provide direction to the executive responsible for managing the search and dealing with the government, including directions to:

Communications plan. Designate a person responsible for responding to immediate inquiries from the press, customers, and business associates, and developing a communications plan for future inquiries.

Document hold. Put a “document hold” in place to ensure that relevant files that were not removed by the agents are not destroyed. A document hold directs employees to preserve documents and suspends document preservation policies that call for the automatic destruction of hard copy and electronic files.


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