By Karie Rego

Private or government investigations usually start with a request for records. In more egregious situations, the FBI or other state or federal agency could show up and take records pursuant to a search warrant.

If state or federal agents arrive with a “search warrant” it will allow the agents the right to enter and seize documents identified in the warrant. It is crucial to contact your legal counsel immediately and have them come over. You can ask the agents to wait until your legal counsel arrives.

You can also ask the agents for photo identification or business cards. Make copies of the identification. Ask who is in charge of the investigation and the primary point person going forward. Have the agents go to a conference room while you make copies of the search warrant. If your legal counsel is not there yet and they want to begin searching, make sure they limit their search to what’s identified on the warrant. Also you should keep a locked file of attorney-client privileged communication and work product that they cannot access.

Having a written policy with the above tips for search warrants makes sense. You also should tell employees in the policy that when questioned to stick to the facts and do not speculate. Employees should know they are not required to speak with an agent and can request legal counsel first.

For more information, please contact Karie Rego at or (415) 774-3187.