Legal Defense Against Stale Warrants

by | Nov 16, 2015 | Blog, Criminal Law, Warrants

Defense Against Stale WarrantsA common mis-conception among people charged with crimes is that there is no point in hiring the most capable attorney because they feel that the evidence against them is too strong to overcome. This is especially true of people that gave statements to the police in which they admitted to committing the crime(s) at issue. The fact is that even people who were caught “red-handed” and/or who confessed to committing the crime(s) charged might have good defenses available to them. One of the most effective means of defending a case is to challenge the legality of a search and/or seizure.

Any given case can involve the search of an individuals person or property. It can also involve a seizure of their property or their person. A seizure of the person is what occurs in the case of a temporary detention or an arrest. If the illegal seizure of a person or property is what leads to the police recovering evidence, all of that evidence can be thrown out and a case can be dismissed if the initial search or seizure was illegal. That means that even a confession can be thrown out if the person giving the confession was unlawfully arrested or was the victim of an unlawful search or seizure that uncovered evidence before the confession took place.

Too many lawyers that hold themselves out as criminal defense practitioners also operate under the mis-conception that there are no good defenses available to them in a given case. This commonly occurs when dealing with a warrant search, as opposed to a warrantless search that uncovered evidence. In theory, the burden is on the state to justify a warrantless seizure, while the burden is on the defense to demonstrate the unlawfulness of a warrant search. The idea is that with a warrant search, one judge has already found the search to be lawful or they would not have issued the warrant in the first place. This overly-simplistic view ignores that: the issuing judges are often lied to by the affiant (police officer seeking the warrant who gives a sworn statement), the issuing judges often do not carefully read the sworn statements in support of a given search warrant, and the affiants and prosecutors overseeing them are not always careful in their drafting of affidavits (sworn statements) and not always abreast of the most recent developments in the law.

One of many other bases for which even the evidence uncovered through a warrant search can be thrown out is that the information used to get the warrant has become stale or out-dated. For example, even the strongest evidence that your neighbor’s house contains drugs today is not a valid basis for the police to kick in his door one month from now since it might not even be the same neighbor that lives there in a month.