If they have probable cause to believe that a crime has been committed or that
there is evidence of criminal activity, offices can obtain a search warrant from
a judge. The search warrant empowers them to enter onto private property, by
force, if necessary. Once there, they can search for the items or individuals
specified in the warrant, and seize them if found.
Search warrants can also be issued to obtain information from persons or
institutions who are not participants in the crime. This information can include
banking and phone records, medical records, or any other information that may
provide evidence of a crime. In limited cases, phone taps and other methods of
electronic surveillance may be used. These require close supervision by the
courts because they also affect the rights of all the innocent persons with
whom the suspect deals.