Any individual attempting to enter, reenter, depart, pass through or reside in the U.S. runs the risk of having the electronic devices he or she is traveling with detained for an extended period of time. When crossing the U.S. border, Customs and Border Protection Officers (CBP) or U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement Officers (ICE) may examine computers, disks, hard drives, and other electronic or digital storage devices even if there is no suspicion you have committed a crime. In making these border searches, these officers are looking for information concerning such things as terrorism, narcotics smuggling, and contraband including child pornography.
The problem is, that even if you have nothing illegal on your electronic devices, you may have your laptop or cellphone detained. According to the CBP Policy Regarding Border Search of Information, “[O]fficers may detain documents and electronic devices, or copies thereof, for a reasonable period of time to perform a thorough border search. The search may take place on-site or at an off-site location.” CBP Directive 5.3.1 only provides that this search must be completed as expeditiously as possible. This means, you could be without your electronic devices for an extended period of time.
If you have had property detained at the U.S. Border, it is very important that you retain an experienced Criminal Defense Attorney to help ensure that you get your property back as soon as possible and that all the required procedures are followed. Call San Francisco Attorney Christopher Morales today to ensure your rights are protected.