The Law of Search Warrants. Where do the search & seizure rules come from?
The Law of Search Warrants Slide 2 Where do the search & seizure rules come from? Slide 3 Slide 4 4th Amendment to U.S. Constitution: no “unreasonable” searches & seizures; warrants must be supported by probable cause on oath/affirmation & specifically describe what is to be searched & persons or things to be seized N.C. Constitution: no “general warrants” Slide 5 What Happens When The Law Isn’t Followed? Slide 6 1)Evidence may not be admissible 2)Possibly civil & criminal penalties for officer 3)Rights are violated Slide 7 1)Determine whether a warrant should issue 2)Determine the necessary facts & state them in the application 3)Write a description of what the officer will search for Five Skills to Acquire in This Session: Slide 8 4) Write a description of who/what/where will be searched 5) Use proper search warrant procedure Slide 9 1. Determine if Facts Justify Issuance of a Search Warrant Must establish PC Fair probability that the object of the search is in the place to be searched More than reasonable suspicion; less than proof beyond a reasonable doubt Slide 10 Consider all of the circumstances Watch out for timeliness! Can give a search warrant even if another magistrate has said no Reliable hearsay is OK Know rules about confidential & anonymous informants... Slide 11 Confidential Informants Slide 12 Confidential information can be enough for PC if you can establish (1) the informant’s credibility and/or the reliability of the information AND (2) the informant’s basis for the information Slide 13 Confidential information can be enough for PC if you can establish (1) the informant’s credibility and/or the reliability of the information AND (2) the informant’s basis for the information Slide 14 Establishing credibility/reliability of information: “I’ve used this informant 3 times & got convictions each time” “I corroborated the info. in the following ways” “The informant admitted involvement in the crime” Slide 15 Confidential information can be enough for PC if you can establish (1) the informant’s credibility and/or the reliability of the information AND (2) the informant’s basis for the information Slide 16 Establishing the basis for the information: Find out how the informant got the information : it must be more than rumor Examples: Informant saw drugs; informant overheard discussion about robbery Slide 17 Anonymous Informants Rule: Anonymous information alone is not enough to establish PC Can help to establish PC if corroborated with reliable information Slide 18 2. Draw Out & State Facts that Establish Probable Cause Think: who, what, where, when, why If CI, establish reliability of informant/information & basis for knowledge Slide 19 Don’t accept conclusions No set rules for PC statement Anticipatory warrants Slide 20 3. Write a Description of the Property/Person Sought Property/person must be identifiable Want to prevent mistaken seizure of legal goods Slide 21 Be descriptive! The more common the property, the more detail needed Slide 22 For illegal contraband, you need not be as detailed “Heroine” is O.K. Amount not needed for drugs Slide 23 For people, Give name & description; If name unknown, give description Slide 24 Search of crime scene Sample description: fingerprints, blood, fired & unfired bullets & casings, footwear impressions, trace hair & clothing fibers & any & all evidence that may relate to the suspected murder Slide 25 4. Describe What is to Be Searched Must describe what is to be searched Want to avoid searching the wrong place/person Slide 26 If it’s a premise (1) state possessor (2) give street # & description; (3) if an apartment, give apt. #; (4) if it’s a rural address, give directions; (5) separate warrant for separate premises Slide 27 If it’s a person, include name & description Slide 28 If it’s a vehicle, include model, make, year, color, license tag, etc. Slide 29 If it’s other items, such as luggage, give description Slide 30 Final rules: Only complete a warrant for a place in your county Don’t stop at “premises” if there’s PC to search elsewhere If outbuildings are to be searched, list them Slide 31 5. Search Warrant Procedure Examine application Put the applicant under oath/affirmation & examine about the facts Slide 32 If there are additional facts (1) add them to the application, (2) tape-record testimony & file the recording w/warrant & application, or (3) reduce testimony to writing on a separate paper & file it w/warrant & application Slide 33 If information won’t fit on the form, attach separate papers Attach affidavits to the application Slide 34 Determine whether there is PC Check description of what is to be searched Check description of property/person to be searched for Get signatures Complete the search warrant portion on other side Put time and date Slide 35 Original & 1 copy to the officer; file copy with clerk Must execute w/in 48 hours Officer leaves a copy at the premises; returns copy to clerk