Tuesday, August 25, 2009

DEA Serves Search Warrant On Beverly Hills Pharmacy In Jackson Case. What Should You Do If Your Business Or Home Is Served With A Search Warrant?

According to an article in the Los Angeles Times, on August 22, 2009, the Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) served a search warrant on Mickey Fine Pharmacy in Beverly Hills relating to an investigation into Michael Jackson's death. During the search, the DEA agents seized prescription drug records and spent five hours sifting through records at for "evidence of improper dispensing of controlled substances."

Special Agent Jose Martinez was quoted in the L.A. Times as saying that Jackson was known to have prescriptions filled at the Roxbury Drive store, running up a $101,000 drug bill in 2005, which the pharmacy collected after filing a lawsuit. The DEA search, part of a multi-agency investigation into Jackson's June 25 death, suggested that detectives are looking beyond Jackson's personal physician and the role of the anesthetic propofol.

A copy of the Los Angeles Times article can be found at: http://www.latimes.com/news/local/la-me-jackson-pharmacy22-2009aug22,0,4035804.story

Attorney Commentary: If your business or home is the subject of a search warrant, and the police are at the door with a search warrant, what do you do?

1. Do not lose your cool. Act calm (even if you are very nervous and scared). Act professional and respectful with the police or investigators even if you are angry and they are not acting in a professional manner. However, do not speak or volunteer information (see #3 below). If you have a lawyer, call him or her. If there are confidential records (medical or legal), there are certain measures that need to be taken within 72 hours in California state cases.

2. Ask for a copy of the warrant and cards from investigators. A search warrant gives the police the legal authority to search the premises named in the warrant. Ask for a copy of the warrant. Obtain a card from the lead investigator or officer conducting the search. This can help your lawyer determine which agencies are involved in the investigation.

3. You have the right to remain silent. Use it. Do not engage in conversation with the investigators or officers executing the warrant since everything you say is evidence. There is no guarantee that your statements will be accurately reflected in any report. What you say will not help you. Politely decline to answer any questions.

4. Do not consent to a search.  Before you consent to any further searches or any other locations, seek advice of counsel.

5. If you don't have an experienced lawyer, hire one after the search. If a search warrant has been issued, a judge may have determined that there is probable cause to believe you or your business has committed a crime. Or you or your business may be a witness in the case. Regardless of your status as suspect or witness, there is an ongoing criminal investigation. You need to prepare in advance.

There are things that a competent attorney can do to improve your chances of not being charged or things that can later help you win any case that may be filed. The attorney can also evaluate the case early, engage in damage control and, if appropriate, make a presentation to the prosecuting agencies in order to avoid prosecution.

Any questions or comments should be directed to: tgreen@greenassoc.com or 213-233-2260.
Tracy Green is a principal at Green and Associates in Los Angeles, California. Ms. Green focuses her practice on the representation of licensed professionals, individuals and businesses in civil, business, administrative and criminal proceedings. She has significant experience in defending individuals, licensed professionals and businesses in search warrants and investigations.
The firm website is: http://www.greenassoc.com/


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