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Search Warrants

4th Amendment Rights and Search Warrants

If you, your home, your car, your phone/computer, your personal effects, or a place you have been staying have been the subject of a search warrant, there are a number of ways that your Arizona criminal defense attorney can challenge that warrant and motion to suppress the evidence. Of course, every case is factually different. Sometimes the officers do a great job and the warrants are prepared appropriately, meaning they are filled with a robust amount of probable cause and particularity. However, many times the magistrates or judges who are signing these warrants clearly have not reviewed the accompanying warrant affidavit that is needed to before they sign the warrant. You need to speak with your Arizona criminal defense attorney about the search warrant that was issued in your case. If your experienced and aggressive Arizona Criminal Defense attorney believes there was an unlawful search and seizure and that the facts support that argument, they should file a motion to suppress or throw out the evidence that was procured illegally as a result of that search warrant.

What Does the Fourth Amendment and Arizona Law Require in a Search Warrant?

Typically, an officer conducts their investigation and obtains facts and evidence to include in something called a search warrant affidavit. That affidavit is their avowal to the magistrate court basically stating all the evidence they believe they possess that leads to probable cause to search. The Magistrate judge has to review the affidavit and determine if it is appropriate before signing the search warrant.

The Fourth Amendment provides “the right of the people to be secure in their persons, houses, papers, and effects, against unreasonable searches and seizures, shall not be violated and no warrants shall issue, but upon probable cause, supported by oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.” These magistrate courts are clearly instructed that “[a] search warrant may not be issued unless the issuing magistrate has probable cause to believe a crime was committed. The judges at the trial court level need to review the warrants to ensure that the magistrate judges had a substantial basis for believing probable cause existed before they signed the search warrant.

Probable cause only exists where the issuing judge finds that, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him . . . there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place. All the circumstances set forth” is too gentle a statement of what is required; the correct phrasing should be plain, hard facts, because the conclusions of the affiant unsupported by underlying facts cannot be used to establish probable cause.

But What if the Officers Were Just Reasonably Relying, in Good Faith, on the Signed Search Warrant? Can the Evidence Still be Suppressed?

Evidence that is procured by law enforcement officers acting in good faith but on reliance of a faulty warrant should not be suppressed. However, there are numerous exceptions to that rule. That is where you really need an experienced and aggressive Arizona criminal defense lawyer to help evaluate the facts of your case to determine whether there was an unlawful search and/or seizure.

There four exceptions to the good faith rule, which would permit suppression of evidence, are: (1) when a magistrate is misled by information that the affiant knew was false or would have known was false but for his or her reckless disregard for the truth;  (2) when the issuing magistrate “wholly abandon[s]” his or her judicial role; (3) when a warrant is based on an affidavit “so lacking in indicia of probable cause as to render official belief in its existence entirely unreasonable”; and (4) when a warrant is “so facially deficient … that the executing officers cannot reasonably presume it to be valid.”

You absolutely need an experienced and aggressive Arizona criminal defense lawyer to help you spot the issues within your search warrant, if any. Search warrants can be challenged based on overbreadth, lack of particularity, obvious lack of probable cause, product of illegality, potential issues with manner of execution and more. You need an experienced and aggressive Arizona criminal defense lawyer to lock the appropriate facts down in witness interviews and ultimately at an evidentiary hearing to ensure the bet outcome when these motions are filed.  Here, at the Litwak Law Group, Jack Litwak is experienced and aggressive when it comes to these warrant issues and regularly challenges them in courts all throughout the state of Arizona.

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The Litwak Law Group

Criminal Defense & Civil Litigation Attorney