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Challenging a Search Warrant

March 7th, 2019 at 3:44 pm

warrantDuring a criminal trial, the prosecution’s case often rests on evidence seized by law enforcement officers during a search. In order for that search to be lawful, the owner of the property must voluntarily agree to the search, or law enforcement officers must have a valid search warrant. When police officers have a search warrant, the owners of the property must never interfere with the search. However, this does not mean that the search cannot be contested in the future.

Challenging a search warrant during a trial is a very common defense for those accused of committing a crime. If the defense can prove a search was unlawful, any evidence obtained during that search is deemed inadmissible in court. This can lead to the entire case being dismissed.

So, how does one challenge the validity of a search warrant? In Rolling Meadows, there are three possible ways to do it.

Unlawful Items Seized

With a search warrant, law enforcement officials must indicate the exact property they plan to search, and the evidence they are looking for. When they conduct the search, they are only allowed to take the property specified in the warrant. If they find evidence of another crime, or evidence such as electronic data that was not listed on the search warrant, they cannot seize that property.

The Fourth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects digital devices from illegal search and seizures. In order to be seized, the search warrant must explicitly state officers are searching for these items.

False Sworn Affidavit

When law enforcement officials are trying to obtain a search warrant, they must sign a sworn affidavit. The Illinois Constitution and Criminal Code allows not only police officers, but also private citizens, to provide these sworn affidavits. An affidavit states a person’s case for the search of a certain area.

When this affidavit contains false information, this is sometimes grounds for challenging a search warrant. Defendants that believe the affidavit contains false information can petition the court for a Franks hearing. These hearings are named after a landmark case in 1978 in which Franks was the defendant.

During a Franks hearing, the defendant is required to prove the signer of the affidavit knowingly or intentionally provided false information, or that they had a reckless disregard for the truth. It is not enough to show an officer was simply negligent or made a mistake.

Warrant Staleness

When law enforcement obtains a search warrant, they are required to search a property within a reasonable time frame. This is due to the fact that in many cases, valuable evidence is likely to be lost, hidden, or destroyed before the search is conducted.

For example, if officers obtained a warrant to search a home looking for drugs, they should conduct the search shortly after receiving the warrant. If they wait too long the evidence could be consumed or destroyed.

Warrant staleness can often provide a strong defense when challenging a search warrant. However, there are times when it is not as effective. For example, digital files are designed for longevity and so, warrant staleness may not provide a valid defense for crimes such as child pornography.

Let a Qualified Rolling Meadows Criminal Defense Attorney Handle Your Case

There are several ways to challenge a search warrant in court, but those accused of committing a crime should never attempt to argue those reasons on their own. A skilled Rolling Meadows criminal defense lawyer will know the law surrounding searches and seizures and will apply it to any case that may involve an unlawful search. If you have been accused of a crime, or you believe law enforcement conducted an illegal search of your property, contact the Law Offices of Christopher M. Cosley today at 847-394-3200. We will ensure you are treated fairly and will fight for your rights in court. Call today for your free consultation.

 

Source:

https://scholarlycommons.law.wlu.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1278&context=casefiles

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