When police suspect anyone of selling drugs, they will usually perform a comprehensive investigation, which may involve obtaining a search warrant for the person’s home or car. In order to obtain a warrant, however, the police must have a reasonable belief that an individual is engaged in illegal activity, and if they do not, the search performed under the warrant could be considered unconstitutional. In a recent Michigan ruling, the court considered what constitutes adequate grounds to issue a warrant in a case where the defendant was charged with multiple drug offenses. If you’ve been charged with a drug crime, it’s a good idea to talk to a reputable Michigan criminal defense attorney about your options.
The Defendant’s Arrest
It is alleged that the police received a search warrant for the defendant’s home and car based on suspicions that he was trafficking drugs. The State charged the defendant with various drug and firearms offenses following the investigation. The defendant then filed a motion to remove the evidence gathered via the search warrant, claiming that it was too broad and lacked sufficient evidence to create probable cause. The motion was granted, and the charges against the defendant were dropped. The State then filed an appeal, claiming that the trial court used the wrong criterion in deciding if the warrant should be issued.
Adequate Grounds for Granting a Warrant
The Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution protects citizens from arbitrary searches and seizures. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment, warrants will not be obtained unless there is probable cause, as shown by affidavits that identify the search area and the items to be seized in detail. A similar clause of the Michigan Constitution has been interpreted to grant the same rights as the Fourth Amendment.
Here, the State claimed that the search warrant was legitimate despite the fact that the affidavit in support of the warrant contained intentionally false and untrue claims, because, even if those statements were disregarded, the affidavit nevertheless provided probable cause. In the end, the court sided with the State.
The court clarified that proving that an officer who provided an affidavit purposefully left out details or provided false evidence does not invalidate a warrant on its own. Rather, a court must decide if the remaining information is sufficient to show probable cause to grant a search warrant after the improper information is removed and relevant information that was omitted is added. The trial court only performed the first part of the test in this case, determining that the affidavit contained false information but failing to decide if probable cause still existed. As a result, the court reversed the trial court’s decision.
Speak to a Dedicated Criminal Defense Attorney in Michigan
Drug offenses usually carry harsh fines, but in many cases, the evidence used to back up drug charges was collected illegally and is thus inadmissible. If you have been charged with a drug violation, you should consult an attorney as soon as possible to determine your options. Ellen Michaels of Ellen K. Michaels and Associates PLLC is an experienced Michigan criminal defense lawyer who can counsel you about your rights and assist you in obtaining a favorable result. To schedule a meeting with Ms. Michaels, you can fill out the online form or call 248-202-3345.