Am I obligated to [i]cooperate[/i] with police serving a search warrant?

Note that I said "cooperate"with a warrant as opposed to stepping aside and letting them do jobs. For example, do I need to provide the combination to my wall safe or the password to my computer? Not giving the police the combination to my safe will only slow them down and potentially protect my property by not requiring them to call in a specialist to force the safe open, possibly destroying it in the process. Some forms of computer encryption can’t realistically be cracked but that won’t stop the police tech investigators from trying.

Is the act of refusing to disclose my computer password or my safe combination after being presented with a legal search warrant a criminal act in and of itself?

Need answer fast?

IANAL, but as I understand it they have the right to search your car/house and restrain you so you don’t interfere with their search. I don’t believe you have any obligation to cooperate or help them with their search, however that may mean that they destroy your property to get to what they want to look at. By giving them the combo to the safe you speed up the process and save yourself from having to buy a new safe when they do whatever it takes to open it.

Perhaps. Though I assume this will be appealed to the Supreme Court eventually. Not necessarily this case.

Pardon my speculative and possibly non-factual reply, but I imagine that if the police come into your house with a search warrant…you have the right to remain silent.

Depends on the scope of the warrant too.

If they are looking for a rifle supposedly used in a shooting rampage, it is not reasonable to look for it in your hard drive. Granted cops are not stupid and will always try and request a warrant as broadly worded as possible to maximize possible hits.

IANAL but, the standard advice is usually:

  1. Do not physically try to stop them (assuming they have the right address, etc)
  2. Do not talk to them or answer any questions without a…
  3. LAWYER. CALL ONE.

As **bobot **said, you have the right against self-incrimination. In a search warrant, they will be removing property to examine later for a potential criminal case against you. So it’s not like they’ll be sitting down at your computer and looking through your files there.

As for the wall safe, they’ll call a locksmith in if they have to. I doubt most police agencies will break open a safe and take it with them. Opening the safe for them when they ask you to could get in the grey area of giving consent to search. If your lawyer wants to later contest that the police went beyond the scope of the warrant, it may be hard to find whatever was in the safe inadmissible if you opened the safe for them. The police will safe you did it voluntarily and they didn’t ask, or that they found it open. Even though you may ‘win’ that argument eventually, it’s not worth the hassle of picking that fight in court.

You have a right not to self-incriminate yourself, which means you don’t have to give encryption keys and safe combinations. I think.

No. If you are ordered to later, as the one link suggests, failure to may constitute Contempt of Court (?), but “on scene” you have no such duty.

IF they intend to frisk you for weapons, you need to “co-operate”, yes, as being in your home is not a constitutional reason to forbid it. The only thing is, just because a person is on the “compact premises” when a Search Warrant is served, it is not an automatic right to search everyone, the police still must comply with Terry v. Ohio as far as suspicion to be armed is concerned.

Another thing, the SC has ruled, and I don’t have the case in my head, if excess damage occurs during a search, it has violated your rights.

They just can not come in and destroy the premises and claim qualified immunity.

Some are colossal dimwits, like the Calgary cops who confiscated a 7-Eleven’s entire rack of Condo magazines during a protect-the-children righteousness push by the provincial government.

Semi-literate bozos licensed to kill.

It is not a valid Miranda if they say (or imply) “You have a right to remain silent, but we will damage your personal property if you exercise that right.” You can then disclose information that you have a Miranda right to not disclose (e.g., tell them the password), and later win your case by demonstrating that the disclosure was under duress. If that disclosure leads to evidence, that evidence would then be inadmissible.

Don’t forget that the police can also get warrents to collect things like fingerprints & DNA samples, or require subjects to undergo very intimate searchs and/or medical exams, by force if needed.

What exactly are you saying here?

It sounds like co-operate fully and waive your right not to consent to a search because cops can rape you by proxy with a doctor.

This case was dropped when the husband provided her passwords. Still no definitive solution.

This guy was ordered by an appeals court to produce a decrypted version of his drive by an appeals court, but only because the border agents had already seen it once.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/In_re_Boucher

Providing information in hope that it will be thrown out later is a bit of a leap of faith. Never do anything to incriminate yourself that you can’t undo where the law is concerned.