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: 76363 Find in a Library
Title: Documentary Search Warrants - A Problem of Particularity
Journal: FBI Law Enforcement Bulletin  Volume:49  Issue:7  Dated:(July 1980)  Pages:27-31
Author(s): L E Rissler
Date Published: 1980
Page Count: 5
Sponsoring Agency: National Institute of Justice/
Rockville, MD 20849
Sale Source: National Institute of Justice/
NCJRS paper reproduction
Box 6000, Dept F
Rockville, MD 20849
United States of America
Document: PDF
Language: English
Country: United States of America
Annotation: Legal issues associated with applying the search warrant to the collection of documentary evidence related to sophisticated white-collar crime are discussed.
Abstract: Because documents are easily destroyed, the use of search warrants is often advantageous in obtaining documentary evidence without forewarning. To be lawful, search warrants must satisfy the particularity requirement of the fourth amendment, which requires a specific description of the documents to be seized; however, many times the precise nature of the records sought is not known in advance. In resolving this dilemma, several courts have indicated that generic descriptions of the documents (descriptions by class or category) are permissible if followed by limiting language enabling the executing officers to separate the papers to be seized from the general class of documents described. Limiting phrases may narrow the general class of documents by reference to time periods, category, type of offense involved, or specific events of individuals. In some instances, broad language may be used if included in a warrant description that contains a lengthy list of specified documents limited by reference to specific crimes. Those drafting documentary search warrants should ask themselves if the literal wording of the warrant precludes the seizure of documents other than those for which probable cause has been established. If it does not, then the warrant is probably too broad and should be redrafted. Footnotes are provided. (Author abstract modified)
Index Term(s): Evidence collection; Judicial decisions; Right against self incrimination; Right of privacy; Search and seizure laws; Search warrants; White collar crime
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.