Federal Rules of Criminal Procedure
Fed. R. Crim. P. 41 - Search and Seizure
(a) Scope and Definitions.
(1) Scope. This rule does not modify any statute regulating search or seizure, or the issuance and execution of a search warrant in special circumstances.
(2) Definitions. The following definitions apply under this rule:
(A) “Property” includes documents, books, papers, any other tangible objects, and information.
(B) “Daytime” means the hours between 6:00 a.m. and 10:00 p.m. according to local time.
(C) “Federal law enforcement officer” means a government agent (other than an attorney for the government) who is engaged in enforcing the criminal laws and is within any category of officers authorized by the Attorney General to request a search warrant.
(D) “Domestic terrorism” and “international terrorism” have the meanings set out in 18 U.S.C. § 2331.
(E) “Tracking device” has the meaning set out in 18 U.S.C. § 3117(b).
(b) Authority to Issue a Warrant. At the request of a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government:
(1) a magistrate judge with authority in the district—or if none is reasonably available, a judge of a state court of record in the district—has authority to issue a warrant to search for and seize a person or property located within the district;
(2) a magistrate judge with authority in the district has authority to issue a warrant for a person or property outside the district if the person or property is located within the district when the warrant is issued but might move or be moved outside the district before the warrant is executed;
(3) a magistrate judge—in an investigation of domestic terrorism or international terrorism—with authority in any district in which activities related to the terrorism may have occurred has authority to issue a warrant for a person or property within or outside that district;
(4) a magistrate judge with authority in the district has authority to issue a warrant to install within the district a tracking device; the warrant may authorize use of the device to track the movement of a person or property located within the district, outside the district, or both; and
(5) a magistrate judge having authority in any district where activities related to the crime may have occurred, or in the District of Columbia, may issue a warrant for property that is located outside the jurisdiction of any state or district, but within any of the following:
(A) a United States territory, possession, or commonwealth;
(B) the premises—no matter who owns them—of a United States diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state, including any appurtenant building, part of a building, or land used for the mission’s purposes; or
(C) a residence and any appurtenant land owned or leased by the United States and used by United States personnel assigned to a United States diplomatic or consular mission in a foreign state.
(c) Persons or Property Subject to Search or Seizure. A warrant may be issued for any of the following:
(1) evidence of a crime;
(2) contraband, fruits of crime, or other items illegally possessed;
(3) property designed for use, intended for use, or used in committing a crime; or
(4) a person to be arrested or a person who is unlawfully restrained.
(d) Obtaining a Warrant.
(1) In General. After receiving an affidavit or other information, a magistrate judge—or if authorized by Rule 41(b), a judge of a state court of record—must issue the warrant if there is probable cause to search for and seize a person or property or to install and use a tracking device.
(2) Requesting a Warrant in the Presence of a Judge.
(A) Warrant on an Affidavit. When a federal law enforcement officer or an attorney for the government presents an affidavit in support of a warrant, the judge may require the affiant to appear personally and may examine under oath the affiant and any witness the affiant produces.
(B) Warrant on Sworn Testimony. The judge may wholly
or partially dispense with a written affidavit and base a warrant on sworn testimony if doing so is reasonable under the circumstances.
(C) Recording Testimony. Testimony taken in support of a
warrant must be recorded by a court reporter or by a suitable recording device, and the judge must file the transcript or recording with the clerk, along with any affidavit.
(3) Requesting a Warrant by Telephonic or Other Reliable Electronic Means. In accordance with Rule 4.1, a magistrate judge may issue a warrant based on information communicated by telephone or other reliable electronic means.
(e) Issuing the Warrant.
(1) In General. The magistrate judge or a judge of a state court of record must issue the warrant to an officer authorized to execute it.
(2) Contents of the Warrant.
(A) Warrant to Search for and Seize a Person or Property. Except for a tracking-device warrant, the warrant must identify the person or property to be searched, identify any person or property to be seized, and designate the magistrate judge to whom it must be returned. The warrant must command the officer to:
(i) execute the warrant within a specified time no longer than 14 days;
(ii) execute the warrant during the daytime, unless the judge for good cause expressly authorizes execution at another time; and
(iii) return the warrant to the magistrate judge designated in the warrant.
(C) Warrant for a Tracking Device. A tracking-device warrant must identify the person or property to be tracked, designate the magistrate judge to whom it must be returned, and specify a reasonable length of time that the device may be used. The time must not exceed 45 days from the date the warrant was issued. The court may, for good cause, grant one or more extensions for a reasonable period not to exceed 45 days each. The warrant must command the officer to:
(i) complete any installation authorized by the warrant within a specified time no longer than 10 days;
(ii) perform any installation authorized by the warrant during the daytime, unless the judge for good cause expressly authorizes installation at another time; and
(iii) return the warrant to the judge designated in the warrant.
(f) Executing and Returning the Warrant.
(1) Warrant to Search for and Seize a Person or Property.
(A) Noting the Time. The officer executing the warrant must enter on it the exact date and time it was executed.
(B) Inventory. An officer present during the execution of the warrant must prepare and verify an inventory of any property seized. The officer must do so in the presence of another officer and the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken. If either one is not present, the officer must prepare and verify the inventory in the presence of at least one other credible person. In a case involving the seizure of electronic storage media or the seizure or copying of electronically stored information, the inventory may be limited to describing the physical storage media that were seized or copied. The officer may retain a copy of the electronically stored information that was seized or copied.
(C) Receipt. The officer executing the warrant must give a copy of the warrant and a receipt for the property taken to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken or leave a copy of the warrant and receipt at the place where the officer took the property.
(D) Return. The officer executing the warrant must promptly return it—together with a copy of the inventory—to the magistrate judge designated on the warrant. The officer may do so by reliable electronic means. The judge must, on request, give a copy of the inventory to the person from whom, or from whose premises, the property was taken and to the applicant for the warrant.
(2) Warrant for a Tracking Device.
(A) Noting the Time. The officer executing a tracking-device warrant must enter on it the exact date and time the device was installed and the period during which it was used.
(B) Return. Within 10 days after the use of the tracking
device has ended, the officer executing the warrant must return it to the judge designated in the warrant. The officer may do so by reliable electronic means.
(C) Service. Within 10 days after the use of the tracking device has ended, the officer executing a tracking-device warrant must serve a copy of the warrant on the person who was tracked or whose property was tracked. Service may be accomplished by delivering a copy to the person who, or whose property, was tracked; or by leaving a copy at the person’s residence or usual place of abode with an individual of suitable age and discretion who resides at that location and by mailing a copy to the person’s last known address. Upon request of the government, the judge may delay notice as provided in Rule 41(f)(3).
(3) Delayed Notice. Upon the government’s request, a magistrate judge—or if authorized by Rule 41(b), a judge of a state court of record—may delay any notice required by this rule if the delay is authorized by statute.
(g) Motion to Return Property. A person aggrieved by an unlawful search and seizure of property or by the deprivation of property may move for the property’s return. The motion must be filed in the district where the property was seized. The court must receive evidence on any factual issue necessary to decide the motion. If it grants the motion, the court must return the property to the movant, but may impose reasonable conditions to protect access to the property and its use in later proceedings.
(h) Motion to Suppress. A defendant may move to suppress evidence in the court where the trial will occur, as Rule 12 provides.
(i) Forwarding Papers to the Clerk. The magistrate judge to whom the warrant is returned must attach to the warrant a copy of the return, of the inventory, and of all other related papers and must deliver them to the clerk in the district where the property was seized.
(As amended Dec. 27, 1948, eff. Oct. 20, 1949; Apr. 9, 1956, eff. July 8, 1956; Apr. 24, 1972, eff. Oct. 1, 1972; Mar. 18, 1974, eff. July 1, 1974; Apr. 26 and July 8, 1976, eff. Aug. 1, 1976; Pub. L. 95–78, § 2(e), July 30, 1977, 91 Stat. 320, eff. Oct. 1, 1977; Apr. 30, 1979, eff. Aug. 1, 1979; Mar. 9, 1987, eff. Aug. 1, 1987; Apr. 25, 1989, eff. Dec. 1, 1989; May 1, 1990, eff. Dec. 1, 1990; Apr. 22, 1993, eff. Dec. 1, 1993; Pub. L. 107–56, title II, § 219, Oct. 26, 2001, 115 Stat. 291; Apr. 29, 2002, eff. Dec. 1, 2002; Apr. 12, 2006, eff. Dec. 1, 2006; Apr. 23, 2008, eff. Dec. 1, 2008; Mar. 26, 2009, eff. Dec. 1, 2009; Apr. 26, 2011, eff. Dec. 1, 2011.)