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My Rights, Federal Marshals Notwithstanding

This article got me thinking about the time I got a knock on my door and opened it to find two federal marshals: both large men, both carrying pistols (I live in Florida - their jackets weren't too thick).

The men informed me that they were federal marshals. According to them, the former lessee of my apartment was also named Erik with a "k" and he was wanted for possibly housing a fugitive. They said they ran this address again while trying to track down this other Erik fellow and were surprised to see another Erik living there. They decided to check it (me) out.

They asked to come inside so that they could look to see that I did not have this unnamed fugitive. I told them that my dog (Flint) was sleeping and declined. I said that my name was not Erik Doe (I forget the other Erik's last name) and never was, and that I began leasing only recently, and that they could check that out at the leasing office.

They asked again to come inside, and asked why I was "acting strange." I said that I was not acting strangely, and that it's certainly not every day people claiming to be federal marshals show up at your door.

They said I could choose not to cooperate, and they could easily come back at 4am and bust down my door. Their entire manner was abrasive and aggressive, as if they were somehow entitled to enter my home and harrass me. They were large men, and if push came to shove there's no way I'd have stood in their way, but dammit I'm a citizen of the United States of America, and unless they had a warrant I would not simply allow them to walk into my home because my name was similar to someone else's.

They again asked me why I wouldn't just let them in. I said "I ask to see the radar gun readout if a cop pulls me over for speeding, because it's within my rights to do so, and I won't just roll over and give up those rights because someone asks me to."

They again repeated their threat of coming back at 4am, and I said "look, if you've got a warrant, then yes, you may confirm that the only other living things in my apartment are my dog and a bit of mold on some leftovers in the fridge."

One of the men huffed and said "fine, I'll get it." He went to his car while I waited with the other marshal. He produced what looked like a warrant - for my address and in the other Erik's name - not that I'd know what a warrant is supposed to look like. It has a signature and some stamps and whatnot, so, good enough for me. I asked to see their badges - again not that I'd know what Federal Marshal badges should look like - and memorized their badge numbers.

They came in, looked around, and left. I offered them a drink of water and thanked them for stopping by on their way out. I said "Look, I'm not trying to be a dick, but you can't expect to show up at someone's house and ask them to waive their rights for the hell of it. All I asked to see was your badges and your warrant."

After they left, I called the local Marshal's office to confirm that they were indeed marshals and not just a pair of people scoping out apartments for later robbing. They were marshals. I doubted anyone would try to rob the apartments, but since confirming that they were not possible thieves was so easy it was worth the time.

10 Responses to "My Rights, Federal Marshals Notwithstanding"

  1. They were which? Seriously, I can't tell from you ending if they were robbers or marshalls...

  2. I called to confirm that they were marshals. They were.

  3. Good for you. I wonder if the warrant is still valid if it doesn't have your name on it, probably.

  4. Not valid IANAL...

    From all the cop dramas I have seen I don't think the warrant applies if the name is incorrect.

    I remember one time on "The Practice" this dude got out of killing this chick because the misspelled his name. 🙂

  5. Well, at least in Texas (where I grew up), you couldn't get out of a freaking speeding ticket if your name was wrong, the car description was wrong, your license number was wrong, and the location was wrong. I tried... they claimed my 4-speed Honda Civic was doing 90mph up a VERY steep hill, and also that it was a 4-door in blue, when it was a 2-door in silver. The judge refused to throw it out. This car wouldn't do 90mph unless you dropped it out of a plane.

    I'm actually surprised I didn't get the death penalty.

  6. Good for you. At least someone out there has enough of a spine to do the right thing and ask that people respect his rights. That and not being some overzealous "the man is out to get me" sort of jackass. They're just schlubs doing their job, an often thankless one at that.

  7. I was on my way back from a nice evening wih a couple and my husband (he was driving) and there they are the famous blue lights in your rear view mirror. I had no clue what my husband had done so we wiated the usual hour for them to approach the car and then he asked to see his license. This is where it gets a little complicated. My husband a colombian citizen does not have citezenship ni the US and we are actually in the process of getting his papers and so of course he asks to his license and my husband does not have one. i thne proceed and ask the cop mayt i ask what he did and he says to me there is a light out in the back i ask him to see what light and he lets me. it was one of those extra lights that you dont need and my license plate says loquita it means "Little crazy" more or less transiated in top english. I bet you money that the cop stopped becasue my license plate was spanish i live in a good sized town and those stupid ass cops are alwsys out to get the spanish community. so then he takes my husband out of the car and asks him question and basically iterigates him ....wait badgering him and wants my husband top snap and tell him that he bought this license off (fake) but it aint true... my husband has nothing to hide and he told them that hid real license is on its way ....i got there badge number and superior officers name so i look "good" haha. In this kind of situatiuon what can i do i am so sick and tired of the cops picking on the spanish community. do i have any rights he pulled my husband over for NOTHING extra lights SERIOUSLY

  8. I'm glad that I stumbled on this article. It's good to see people are aware of their rights, too many people aren't. Kudos to you

  9. I know you're no longer in Florida, but search warrants are signed by judges. If it's not signed by a judge, it's not a search warrant; if it is signed, you ought to be able to call the judge's chambers and confirm that the warrant is valid.

    Also, ask them for *your copy* of the warrant. If they refuse, soemthing's up.

    Consider videotaping any "search" inside your home, including any conversation you have with them regarding the warrant. They have no expectation of privacy in your home; you do.

  10. [...] took a similar stand when some U.S. Marshals showed up at my door in Florida because I had the same first name [...]