When Do I Get Arrested for Steroids?
What You Need to Know About Anabolic Steroid Search Warrants, Arrests, and Your Rights.
Many of my steroid trafficking clients get woken up by federal agents who descend on their residence to execute a search warrant. The information that led to the signing of the warrant varies from case to case. Sometimes it came from a confidential informant (“snitch”) or it could have come from the interception of an anabolic steroid package in the mail. The law enforcement investigators involved – typically Postal Inspectors, DEA or FDA agents, or folks from the Department of Homeland Security – will have an Assistant United States Attorney present a sworn affidavit containing probable cause for the search to a federal judge or magistrate. If the judge or magistrate determines that the information rises to the level of probable cause to search the residence, a warrant gets signed authorizing a search of the premises. The warrant will have certain limitations on when it can be executed (within which hours of the day) and when it will expire. The agents will then form a team, sometimes recruiting local police to assist, and will demand entry to the residence, often in the early morning.
The agents will typically separate the occupants of the house while they look for the objects of the warrant – contraband (anabolic steroids), money, drug paraphernalia, electronics (computers and cellphones), drug records, etc. Sometimes the suspected steroid trafficker will be handcuffed. They will often ask the steroid suspect where these items can be found. Some clients keep quiet, asking to speak with a lawyer before answering questions that might incriminate them. Others are cooperative, and instruct the agents as to where the steroids and other items can be found. It can take several hours for the search to be completed. Often, they will recover evidence of anabolic steroid manufacturing, including raw steroid powders, glassware, finished steroid products in labeled vials, labels, and occasionally a pill press. They will seize laptops and other electronics which might contain evidence of steroid transactions. When the search is completed, what happens next?
Most steroid trafficking suspects assume they will be arrested on the spot. Even many criminal defense lawyers would expect that to happen. But in my vast experience in handling countless steroid cases, it rarely does. In the overwhelming majority of cases, the steroid trafficking suspect is not arrested at the conclusion of the search. Instead, the agents take all the items they’ve collected and leave.
What happens next? The inventory seized in the search is examined. The contents of the electronics are explored for evidence. The powders and vials of liquid are sent to the laboratory for analysis to see which items are controlled substances and which ones are not (e.g., tamoxifen, clomid, anastrozole, etc.). The process can take months due to backed up work at the lab. Once all the evidence is evaluated, the next step in the formal process would be that the evidence would be presented to a grand jury. If the grand jury finds that there is probable cause to believe that the suspect committed a crime (i.e., steroid manufacturing or distribution) they will vote an indictment. Once the steroid suspect is indicted, an arrest warrant is issued. That’s when the suspect is arrested and brought before a judge. This court appearance is called an arraignment, and a bond can be set to ensure the suspect, now called the “Defendant,” will return to court in the future.
However, there can be benefits to sidestepping this formal process. Once the agents leave a suspect’s premises, he (or, less often, she) usually looks me up makes a phone call for my help. My new client is typically shaken up from the experience of having the residence ransacked by a group of armed strangers in uniforms (and sometimes riot gear). My new client will usually be given paperwork bearing the name of the Assistant U.S. Attorney assigned to the case. That’s where my work begins. In many cases, an amicable resolution of the case can be achieved without the case going to a grand jury. The terms of that resolution are often much more favorable than would exist after an indictment is returned (sometimes prison can be avoided entirely). In such cases, no arrest warrant ever gets issued. The client never suffers the stress of an arrest at a home or place of business. Instead, if the case is to proceed to court, the client is “processed” at a mutually convenient time.
The takeaway I want to emphasize is that it is quite common NOT to be arrested at the time a search warrant is executed in a steroid case, even if incriminating evidence is found, and the lack of an arrest has no significant connection to the strength or weakness of the evidence. If you or anyone you know is arrested for anabolic steroid trafficking, distribution, manufacturing or possession, I am available to help. I’m thoroughly familiar with defending these cases, and I’ve helped clients from coast to coast. Feel free to call me at 516-294-0300.