Legal Matters

Sample Search Warrants

Click the links below to download sample Search Warrants:

Examples* of affidavits provided by the United States Attorney's Office, Western District of Missouri.

*It is recommended to attach a digital photograph of the target residence in the legal description portion of the affidavit.

Examples of search warrants provided by the United States Attorney's Office, District of Kansas.

Kansas Search Warrants

The Heart of America RCFL was formed in 2003 to serve the entire state of Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri. The lab is staffed with civilian and sworn examiners assigned from Federal agencies as well as state and local departments in both Kansas and Missouri. Sworn examiners hold Federal deputizations through the United States Marshal's Office.

Although the physical lab sits within the geographical boundaries of Missouri, warrants issued from Kansas courts are accepted. It is important that the issuing court authority be made aware, one, that the evidence will require specialized equipment and trained experts to examine and, two, the evidence will be examined in the state of Missouri. Including this additional verbiage in the initial application will greatly reduce any potential legal challenges later. This is general legal guidance and should be discussed with the appropriate prosecuting authority prior to application.

The following, or similar, verbiage should be used on search warrants for digital evidence which originate in the state of Kansas:

"This request for a warrant involves the potential seizure and review of computer and/or digital media. The analysis of computer and/or digital media is an exacting scientific procedure which is designed to protect the integrity of the evidence and to recover digital information, to include hidden, erased, compressed, password protected or encrypted files. The analysis of evidence from computer and digital systems commonly require the seizure of all computer related items to be processed by a qualified computer expert in a laboratory or other controlled environment. The high volume of the contents and the potential intentional concealment of criminal activity through random ordering and deceptive file names may require the examination of all stored data. This process may take weeks or months depending on the volume of the data involved and the caseload of the computer expert.

One such forensic and controlled laboratory environment is the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory (HARCFL), which is physically located in Clay County, Missouri. The HARCFL is a cooperative law enforcement organization comprised of federal, state and local certified Forensic Examiners, which provide digital forensic services to law enforcement throughout Kansas and the western two-thirds of Missouri.

Recognizing that specialized and highly technical equipment and software will be needed to conduct the analysis of the previously seized digital media, the media will likely be transferred to the HARCFL or other qualified laboratory with a request that a forensic examination be conducted in this matter. Additionally, under limited situations, assistance may be required by the receiving laboratory from other qualified laboratories. For example, the HARCFL may need to request assistance from its affiliated laboratory, the FBI Laboratory in Quantico, Virginia. Should such assistance be required, the receiving laboratory will likely forward the above described digital evidence for further analysis as authorized by the requested warrant.

Upon issuance of the requested warrant, the receiving laboratory will attempt to initiate the process to facilitate the forensic examination within 96 hours. In those instances in which such cannot be accomplished due to the laboratory’s case load, transportation and/or shipping delays, absence of available qualified Forensic Examiners, etc., the court will be appropriately notified. Additionally, due to the processes that must be conducted to analyze digital media, the volume of information normally associated therewith, and the laboratory’s caseload, it is extremely likely that the entire forensic process will require more than 10 days to complete"

Click the link below to download the following document:
Rupnick Guidance


Clay County MO Supplemental SW

Overview

The following instructions are provided for Kansas law enforcement officers who are required to obtain a supplementary (“piggy-back”) Missouri search warrant by their prosecuting authority. Please consult with your District Attorney/County attorney for applicability. The staff of the HARCFL has worked to streamline the application and service process with the Clay County Sheriff and Prosecutors offices.


Please note the HARCFL does NOT require the acquisition of a piggy-back warrant for Kansas agencies. Since 2003, and over hundreds of examinations, no evidence or examination has been suppressed or disallowed in Kansas courts as a result of it being conducted at the HARCFL in the state of Missouri.

Instructions

The Search Warrants will be done on Mondays. Requests received by Clay County Sheriff’s Office after Monday morning will be done the following week.

The points of contact for the Clay County Sheriff’s Office is Sergeant Matt Hunter, email: mhunter@sheriffclayco.com Office: 816-407-3724 and Detective Shannon Crawford, email: scrawford@sheriffclayco.com Office: 816-407-3725.

Normally, it is best to complete the affidavit in its narrative form. Once completed and perfected, you can then cut and paste necessary information into the Application and Search Warrant. You can tab through the form as needed.

When you have completed all three forms, please email them, including a copy of your Kansas warrant, to the Clay County Sheriff’s deputy listed above. The subject line should read “Request for supplementary search warrant”. Please include your contact information for follow-up to include phone numbers, fax numbers and email. Do NOT zip documents together, attach each document individually to the email.

In the Affidavit please do not put yourself as the Affiant. The Affiant will be the Clay County Sheriff’s Office Detective who is doing the warrant there. If in the Affidavit you have yourself listed as Affiant or in the first person please change it to your Title and last name.

You must provide a copy of your original Kansas search warrant. Please fax or submit as an email attachment. Do not Zip the file.

Please provide the HARCFL case number given to you when you submitted your evidence. (HAR-XX-XXX) Please reference this number in all emails, correspondence and reports to the Clay County S.O’s. and the HARCFL.

The Sheriff’s office will review the documents and take to the Clay County Prosecutors office for the required swearing and filing. Clay County Deputies will also handle the service to the lab and the return in Missouri.

Missouri Warrants
Missouri search warrants require the completion of three forms:

  1. Affidavit This form will briefly but thoroughly set out the probable cause for the warrant. Normally, this can be a cut and paste from your Kansas warrant..
  2. Application The application is a simple fill in the box form listing the Missouri officer applying, the item to be searched and what is being requested to be searched. (Do not complete the probable cause box; that is taken care of by the affidavit). Complete the item to be searched block and the search required.
  3. Search Warrants The search warrant itself will be very similar to the Application Check the appropriate search box, the item to be searched and the search required. Search warrant box regarding the return should be ignored for Kansas officers.

Downloads:

Samples - Here are examples of the Search Warrant forms. Please use the Blanks for actual request.

Blanks - Blanks are PDF Template files.

Tips

  • Remember: Missouri does not seal warrants and affidavits and they become a public record almost immediately
  • “Officer” blanks refer to Clay County deputies in this instance. 
  • Write in the third person, and not first person. (eg. Sentences should not start with “I observed”)

Questions

  • Questions regarding submission of forms, service of warrants and the return, please contact Clay County Sergeant Matt Hunter at mhunter@sheriffclayco.com
  • Questions regarding Missouri law, what to include in the affidavit or forms, please contact the Clay County Prosecutors Office at 816-736-8300.
  • Questions regarding the HARCFL policy or procedures, please contact Director Lou Ann Stovall at LouAnn.Stovall@ic.fbi.gov
  • Questions regarding Kansas law, please contact the District Attorney or County Attorney in which the evidence resides or the crime occurred.

Providing Copies of Digital Evidence for Discovery Requests

Upon the request of the original submitting law enforcement agency or prosecuting authority, the Heart of America Regional Computer Forensic Laboratory (HARCFL) will accommodate requests for review of digital evidence to representatives acting on behalf of the Defense so as to satisfy discovery and equal-access requirements. Please read our general submission guidelines and policies, as well as the information below carefully prior to submitting any review requests.

Requesting Media be Prepared for Review

All requests for Defense review must originate from the law enforcement agency that originally submitted the media for examination, or in some instances, the prosecuting authority for the case. We will not accept or consider requests that originate directly from any other source.

Requesting entities must complete a Submission Request on which the individual person or agency to review the evidence is specified. Contact information should be provided, to include name(s), phone numbers and email addresses of the reviewer(s). If a Defense attorney/firm does not yet know what professional agency will be conducting the review, a point of contact must be provided so that suitable arrangements can be made. The HARCFL will contact the reviewing entity directly to make all technical arrangements.

Samples:
Please make available image files from HAR-08-123 for forensic examination, to John Doe of Defense Forensics, LLC. John Doe can be reached at (816) 555-1221 and JD@defenseforensic.com. If you have questions, please contact Fred Jones, Rouse County Prosecutor at (816) 555-3434 or Fred.Jones@RouseCounty.com.
OR
Please make arrangements for the defense examination of the image files from HAR-08-123 with the Smith and Associates Law Firm at (816) 555-1221 and Joe.Smith@SmithAssoc.com. If you have questions, please contact Fred Jones, Rouse County Prosecutor at (816) 555-3434 or Fred.Jones@RouseCounty.com.

The Review Process

Once the HARCFL receives the request to prepare the media, an examiner will make arrangements with the specified contact regarding the review requirements. Please ensure the reviewing entity is prepared to answer some basic questions as to how the media should be presented so we may prepare the evidence accordingly. For instance, a trained forensic professional will need the evidence prepared substantially differently then a layperson with no forensic background or tools. See the Important Notes section below for specific considerations. Incorrect information will delay our ability to prepare the evidence appropriately and waste valuable time.

Once the examiner has the media prepared, the reviewer will be notified and arrangements made to either release the prepared media or utilize a HARCFL review room, as appropriate. The method of review will be determined in part based on the expectation of whether or not the media contains contraband, specifically child pornography.

A. Contraband (Child Pornography) Cases: State and Federal laws strictly limit to what extent child pornography can be provided outside of the immediate control of the laboratory. The HARCFL offers a private review room with an exam station as well as phone and Internet access to meet current legal requirements.

  • By policy, the HARCFL considers the Adam Walsh act a controlling document on the release of child pornographic contraband. (Please click here for more guidance on the Office of Justice Programs government website).
  • For Missouri courts, Missouri state law is similarly restrictive on the release of media containing child pornography. (Please click here to view the statute on the Missouri General Assembly government website).

B. Non-Contraband Cases: For routine cases that do not contain child pornography or other contraband, a copy of the evidence may be placed on media, such as a hard drive, for release. Any media to be used for review should be provided to the HARCFL at the time of the request. Generally, the media will be returned to the original submitting agency or prosecuting authority, though in special circumstances arrangements may be made to return the evidence directly to the Defense representative.

Important Notes for Review at the HARCFL:

  1. We can prepare the images in either DD (Linux) or E01 (Encase), which are industry standard formats. In most cases, we discourage providing restored "bootable" or "cloned" copies of evidence as it may be difficult to review and require an extensive amount of time and media to prepare.
     
  2. We cannot provide access to any licensed forensic software (i.e. FTK, Encase, etc) for the review, however a suitable review machine is provided on which additional tools may be installed by the reviewer.
     
  3. The HARCFL utilizes a Defense Review Network (DRN) for child pornography cases. The DRN is a file server which has unique accounts set up for each defense reviewer to review case data. Each account can ONLY access cases specifically assigned to them. Upon approval case data will be copied off the HARCFL examiner network and onto the Defense Network. They are independent air gapped networks.

    Users may access data as long as they need and are responsible for any "clean up" of the space. To access the DRN users are encouraged to use the in-house computer (currently a Dell T-7400) but may bring in their own exam station with Director approval. The use of the DRN negates the need to provide hard drives for each case as well as allowing longer and fuller access by defense representatives.
     
  4. The reviewer will be asked to sign an agreement that indicates he or she will comply with our applicable statutes and policies regarding the review, specifically as it related to child pornography or other contraband.
     
  5. HARCFL staff will not provide technical assistance as far as interpretation or explanation of evidence, but will be available to ensure any necessary review requirements are being met.
     
  6. In cases related to child pornography, reviewers will be allowed to remove text files and such from the lab, but absolutely no pictures, videos or other depictions can be removed, post review. Any pictures, videos or other depictions removed from our space, not specifically authorized by an order of the court, will result in criminal investigation by the FBI. HARCFL staff may assist reviewers with forensic wiping of media and hardware used for review, if requested.