Michigan Court Explains the Evidence Needed to Obtain a Warrant

Typically, when the police believe that someone is trafficking narcotics, they will conduct a thorough investigation, which often includes obtaining a warrant to search the individual’s home or vehicle. The police must have reasonable suspicion that a person is engaging in criminal activity to obtain a warrant, however, and if they do not, the search conducted under the warrant may be deemed unconstitutional. In a recent Michigan opinion, a court discussed what constitutes sufficient grounds to grant a warrant in a case in which the defendant was charged with several drug crimes. If you are accused of a drug offense, it is advisable to speak to a trusted Michigan criminal defense lawyer about your options.

Facts of the Case

It is reported that the police obtained a warrant to search the defendant’s home and vehicle based on the belief that he was selling drugs. Following the investigation, the State charged the defendant with multiple drug and weapons crimes. He then moved to suppress the evidence obtained via the search warrant on the grounds that it was overly broad and did not contain adequate evidence to establish probable cause. The court granted the motion and dismissed the charges against the defendant. The State subsequently appealed, arguing that the trial court applied an improper standard in evaluating whether the warrant should have been granted.

Probable Cause Sufficient to Justify a Search Warrant

The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects people from unreasonable searches and seizures and states that warrants will not be issued without probable cause, supported by affidavits that describe in detail the place that will be searched and the things that will be seized. The Michigan Constitution contains a similar provision that has been construed as providing the same protections as the Fourth Amendment.

In the subject case, the State argued that the search warrant was valid despite the fact that the affidavit in support of the warrant contained deliberately misleading and untrue statements, in that even if the statements were disregarded, the affidavit still established probable cause. The court ultimately agreed with the State.

The court explained that demonstrating that an officer providing an affidavit intentionally left out information or provided inaccurate facts does not, standing alone, invalidate a warrant. Rather, a court must determine, after the improper information is set aside and pertinent information that was omitted is added, whether the information that remains is adequate to demonstrate probable cause to issue a search warrant. Here, the court found that the trial court only conducted the first part of the test in that it determined there was false information in the affidavit and failed to determine whether probable cause nonetheless existed. Thus, the court vacated the trial court ruling.

Meet with a Seasoned Michigan Criminal Defense Lawyer

Drug crimes typically carry significant penalties, but in many instances, the evidence used to support drug charges was obtained unlawfully and is inadmissible. If you are accused of committing a drug crime, it is advisable to meet with an attorney as soon as possible to discuss your potential defenses. Sam Bernstein of ArborYpsi Law is a seasoned Michigan criminal defense attorney who can advise you of your rights and help you to seek a favorable outcome. You can contact Mr. Bernstein via the form online or by calling (734) 883-9584 to set up a conference.


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