What has to happen to get a search warrant for Cleveland City Ha - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

What has to happen to get a search warrant for Cleveland City Hall?

There are boxes upon boxes of records at the city's Community Development Department. It's hard to tell if any were disturbed. (Source: WOIO) There are boxes upon boxes of records at the city's Community Development Department. It's hard to tell if any were disturbed. (Source: WOIO)
CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) -

Cleveland City Hall was the site of a raid by the FBI and the IRS on Wednesday night. 

The search warrant was sealed meaning the reason why they went in, and what they were looking for is not going to be released. 


RELATED:  A look at where federal agents were during a raid of Cleveland City Hall


Former Federal Prosecuting Attorney for the US Justice Department Chris Georgalis explains the process. 

What has to be done to get a search warrant for city hall?

First, a special agent from either the FBI or the IRS, the two agencies involved in this case, must draft a search warrant affidavit. This affidavit is presented to a Federal Magistrate. 

In the affidavit they must explain, "...probable cause to believe that a violation has occurred and that evidence of that violation will be found in the place to be searched," Goergalis said. 

the affidavit has to be specific spelling out what laws or statutes have been broken and exactly what items they're looking for. 

"The affidavit would typically be presented to the magistrate a few days in advance of the search," Georgalis said. 

What kinds of items can be taken during a search warrant?

In the original affidavit the agents but be very specific about what they want to go in an collect. 

"The items that are to be seized must relate to the allegations contained in the affidavit as possibly containing evidence of criminal wrongdoing.  In most instances, the government would be seizing documents, computers, hard drives, and the like," Georgalis said. 

Why are some search warrants sealed?

In the case of the Cleveland City Hall raid the magistrate allowed the search warrant affidavit, and the list of items they are looking for to remain sealed, not available to the public or the media at this time. 

The Government would have needed to present a compelling reason why, and the Magistrate would have to agree. 

"The most prominent justification is that the investigation is non-public and still ongoing and any premature disclosure of the affidavit could result in spoliation of evidence or in someway otherwise compromise the investigation," Georgalis said. "Another justification could be the safety of witnesses."


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