Sneak and Peek Warrants

The sneak and peek warrant was incorporated into the United States legislation as a section of the Patriot Act in 2001. The main aim for the enactment of the legislation was to curb terrorist activities and prevent them from taking place within the jurisdictions of the United States. Sneak and peek gave law enforcement officers the power to search private residential areas and business premises without prior notification or with delayed notification to ensure that the suspect cannot interfere with evidence that can enable them have a strong case against the suspect. In the context of this paper, the sneak and peak warrants will be highlighted and their relevance to the United States established.

Sneak and Peek warrants are search warrants which give law enforcement officers the power to break into private homes as well as businesses and conduct a search within the premise without the prior search and knowledge of the party being investigated. This is a piece of legislation which was passed in 2001 as part of the United States Patriot Act. They are also referred to as Covert entry search warrants or surreptitious entry search warrants. The main aim of coming up with this legislation was to reinforce the measures aimed at preventing terrorist activities within the United States. The officers in charge of law enforcement are not allowed to seize personal properties. These warrants have demonstrated great benefits in investigations that involve the manufacturing of illegal drugs. The warrant gives the officers the power to conduct a thorough search for chemicals as well as drug paraphernalia within the premise to give them the authority to return with the normal search warrant (Sievert, 2007).

Sneak and Peek Warrants
While the sneak and peak warrants were basically meant to act as an anti-terrorism measure, it is not necessarily limited to terrorism and has application in various federal crimes. This has particularly brought it to the limelight regarding its efficiency. It brings along a number of advantages and disadvantages. This piece of legislation was formulated after the terrorist attack which took place in Washington leading to the destruction of twin towers and causing serious harm to human life. The United States had to find ways of fighting terrorism both externally and internally (Leahy, n.d). Sneak and Peak warrants give room for delayed information of the search or not informing the suspect at all about such searches in his premise. This is very vital if the officials in charge of the investigations want to get first-hand evidence. The court can only give the sneak and peek warrant if there is a possible negative result that can be brought about by issuing prior information concerning the search. If the warrant does not include seizure of private property, unless there is an indubitable necessity for that, and that the warrant may be extended if there is a reasonable cause (Crawford, 1997).

With the evidence in their hands, law enforcement officers have a strong ground and are able to present solid cases in court. Critics have expressed fears that the law enforcement officers may take such warrants for granted and go the extent of applying them even on the lesser law breaking acts that occur on a day-to-day basis (Larry  Maria, 2008). Sneak Peak is not considered to be a violation of the Fourth Amendment that protects the citizens from unreasonable and unlawful searches. Sneak peak has been credited with ensuring safety of both the law enforcement officers and the resident. If the search could be normal, then there is a probability that the resident can plan to harm the officers or may act in such a manner as to attract the wrath of the officers (Stuntz, 2002). This practice has the potential of preventing the resident from fleeing when he is sure he is guilty. The officer will locate him if they realize that he has a case to answer (Bullock, Haddow,  Coppola, 1997).

The suspect cannot be in a position to interfere with the evidence as could be the case when he is informed of the imminent search. Some of the residents can intimidate the witnesses if they are aware that their premises are bound to be searched (Odum, 2010). Sneak and peek search could thus act as a savior to the innocent witnesses. When a resident is aware that his premise is bound to be searched, he may jeopardize investigations and even delay the trials (Howard,  Sawyer, 2006).

Sneak and peak warrants have demonstrated viability in combating terrorism since the time of their adoption. They have always ensured that evidence is not destroyed, the suspects do not flee, the witnesses are protected, trials are not delayed safety of the resident and the law enforcement officers have been ensured and most of all is that the general safety of United States citizens and residents have been ensured. Despite the numerous advantages, sneak and peak warrants have come under sheer criticism citing the infringement into the rights of the citizens.


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