Sneak and Peek Warrants, are officially known as delayed notice warrants, covert entry search warrants, and surreptitious entry search warrants. The warrants allow officers to maintain secrecy, sometimes by hiring a locksmith to enter someone’s home, business, apartment or other establishment such as a massage parlor, to place hidden cameras to capture illegal activity while the tenants or owners are not there and it is completely legal. The officers do not have to receive consent from the occupants.
Unlike conventional search warrants, officers do not have to give the occupant or owners a notice. There have also been cases where officers have come inside the home, seized property, and made it look like a typical break in. If normal investigative procedures have not worked, they can also seek authorization from a federal judge to install wiretapping and electronic eavesdropping devices during an ongoing criminal investigation. The delayed notice warrants have been used since the 1970s, but the warrants became standard procedure in 2001 under the USA Patriot Act, which is an act used to deter and punish acts of terrorism after the September 11th terrorist attacks occured. It is not just limited to terroism. It is also used to conduct surveillance in drug investigations, human trafficking investigations, and other illegal activity. The crimes can range from misdemeanors to felonies.
More than 46,000 sneak and peek warrants were issued between 2006-2016. Most of them were drug cases and few were for sex crimes. Many people do not know about these types of warrants. The sheriff will then view these videos as evidence from their office. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects the rights of people to be secure in their own home, but does not specifically mention a notice requirement.