skip navigation


Register for Latest Research

Stay Informed
Register with NCJRS to receive NCJRS's biweekly e-newsletter JUSTINFO and additional periodic emails from NCJRS and the NCJRS federal sponsors that highlight the latest research published or sponsored by the Office of Justice Programs.

NCJRS Abstract

The document referenced below is part of the NCJRS Virtual Library collection. To conduct further searches of the collection, visit the Virtual Library. See the Obtain Documents page for direction on how to access resources online, via mail, through interlibrary loans, or in a local library.


NCJ Number: 201463 Find in a Library
Title: Obtaining Admissible Evidence From Computers and Internet Service Providers
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:72  Issue:7  Dated:July 2003  Pages:11-15
Author(s): Stephen W. Cogar J.D.
Date Published: July 2003
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
Sale Source: NCJRS Photocopy Services
Box 6000
Rockville, MD 20849-6000
United States of America
Document: HTML
Type: Instructional Material
Format: Article
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: This article discusses legal issues that pertain to law enforcement officers' authority to search and seize business and home computer files.
Abstract: Whether or not a search warrant is required to search and seize computer evidence related to a crime depends on the subject's reasonable expectation that the computer files are private. When the computer is the property of a business and is used by an employee who has been informed that all computer content is subject to examination by the business, then the business owner can give consent to a warrantless search in the investigation of an employee who may have used the computer to commit a crime. If a computer is in a home, then a warrantless search of computer files cannot be conducted without the consent of a party who has use of the computer. Without consent, an officer cannot search or seize home computer files unless probable cause exists to show that the computer contains files that constitute evidence of crime, was used in furtherance of or actually in committing a crime, or is subject to forfeiture. Multiple courts have held that "general searches for unspecified property are generally void. The affidavit should specifically state what is being sought and why it is believed to be on the premises. This applies to persons and property to be seized." This article also discusses the information that may lawfully be obtained about a subject from an Internet service provider (ISP). This can include such items as account information, telephone numbers dialed, and Internet sites visited. 23 notes
Main Term(s): Police legal limitations
Index Term(s): Computer privacy and security; Computer privacy and security laws; Computer related crime; Police legal training; Search and seizure; Search and seizure laws; Search and seizure training; Search warrants; Warrantless search
To cite this abstract, use the following link:

*A link to the full-text document is provided whenever possible. For documents not available online, a link to the publisher's website is provided. Tell us how you use the NCJRS Library and Abstracts Database - send us your feedback.