Emergency guidelines in case of a search or dawn raid

A search is an unannounced "visit" by an authority to seize and confiscate evidence (documents, files, objects, electronic data, etc.). It can also be conducted if a suspect is being sought.

Home and company searches usually occur early in the morning and are also known as "dawn raids" as they are intended to achieve a surprise effect on the person concerned.

Home searches, in particular, are a considerable encroachment on the fundamental right to the inviolability of the home (Article 13 of the German Constitution). Hardly any other measure penetrates more deeply into the private and intimate sphere than a search of the rooms in which a person lives. According to the case law of the Federal Constitutional Court, the principle of proportionality must be particularly observed during searches.

Nevertheless, the German Code of Criminal Procedure (StPO) allows searches to be carried out for any suspected crime or offense. The legal hurdles for a search are therefore not particularly high, in contrast, for example, to pre-trial detention, which requires an urgent suspicion of a crime, or telecommunications surveillance, which is only permitted if the suspicion relates to an offense from a specific list of particularly serious crimes.

Five golden rules in case of a search

  1. Stay calm
  2. Contact a lawyer
  3. Check the search warrant
  4. Accompany and document
  5. Secure your rights
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