In Andresen v. Maryland, the U.S. Supreme Court held that the Fifth Amendment privilege against self-incrimination does not apply to the forcible seizure, with valid search warrants, of an attorney's incriminatory personal business records from his office. Petitioner Andresen, a sole practitioner specializing in real estate settlements, came under the scrutiny of a Bi-County Fraud Unit investigating real estate settlement activities in the Washington, D.C., area. The investigation revealed that Andresen, while acting as settlement attorney, had defrauded the purchaser by knowingly concealing two existing liens on the property. The investigators concluded that there was probable cause to believe the petitioner had committed the state crime of false pretenses and were issued search warrants permitting them to search for specified documents relating to the sale and conveyance of the purchaser's property. The law-enforcement officers seized 80 documentary items from the petitioner's office and corporation files pertaining to the real estate transaction under investigation.
"Privilege against Self-Incrimination Does Not Bar Seizure of Personal Papers,"
Mercer Law Review: Vol. 28:
2, Article 17.
Available at: https://digitalcommons.law.mercer.edu/jour_mlr/vol28/iss2/17