When law enforcement officers execute a search warrant on your house, car or other location, this search warrant must be reviewed and signed by a Judge. This Fourth Amendment Protection protects against seizures of your property only if there is probable cause to believe that the location at issue is connected to a crime. Furthermore, the judge who issued the warrant must reasonably believe that items connected to that crime are likely to be in the place specified in the warrant. This finding of probable cause allows officers to enter your house, car or location of the search warrant without asking for consent or permission to search the area.
Search warrants are authorized by Fla. Stat. §933.02 and are issued when law enforcement officers have prepared affidavits that detail the crime being investigated, and specifies the evidence hoped to be found. An affidavit should also indicate why the specified evidence is likely to be found at that location as well as a specific description of the location and where the officers want to search. When a judge signs a search warrant, the warrant sets some legal boundaries or limits on what the officers can look for and where they can look.
Once a judge has approved and signed a search warrant, the officer’s likely gather in advance of the execution of the warrant and the officers are briefed on how the warrant is to be served. A “Knock and Announce” warrant requires the officer’s to “knock” on your door and “announce” themselves, wait a “reasonable” time to allow the door to be opened before they force their way inside.
However, if the officers convince the judge that there is a reasonable threat of violence, then the judge can authorize a warrant that will allow forcible entrance into your home, car or other location without an announcement.
Once inside, if there are residents, the officers are required to have one officer review the warrant with the owner or rightful possessor of the location, and leave the copy with the owner. The officers are also required to take an “inventory” of what has been “seized” by any officer in the execution of a search warrant. This inventory is to be filed with the Clerk of Court in the County of the location of the search.
If you have been the subject of an executed search warrant, that doesn’t mean the seized evidence is automatically going to be allowed to be used against you. Even with a signed search warrant, the Fourth Amendment of the United States, as well as Art. 1 §12 of the Florida Constitution still provides protection from an illegal search and seizure that can be raised in a “Motion to Suppress the Search Warrant”.
To be successful on such a motion, a careful and thorough review of the search warrant, the facts that form the basis of the search warrant, the manner in which the search warrant was issued and executed, as well as other information must be gathered to increase the prospects of having the search warrant thrown out of court “Quashed”.
Issues that can be raised in a Motion to Suppress a Search Warrant can include:
- If the information that forms the basis of the warrant sufficiently timely to establish probable cause or was it “stale” and not sufficiently indicative of recent criminal activity. If officers wait too long to either secure or execute a search warrant, that can form the basis to Quash a search warrant.
- Did the officers use a Confidential Informant (C.I.), and was this C.I. sufficiently reliable to form the basis for the search warrant? If officers improperly use a C.I., use a C.I. they know is not truthful, or misrepresent material facts in the affidavit for a search warrant; these factors can form the basis to Quash the search warrant.
- Did the officers gather the other evidence that forms the basis for the search warrant lawfully? Officers can rummage through your garbage on garbage days if your trash cans are by the street, but not if your trash cans are still at the side of your house.
- Did the warrant authorize the search of all cars on the property of the house that was to be searched?
- Did the warrant sufficiently describe the house that was to be searched, and did the officers search the right house?
- Did the officers properly inventory the items seized, and were the seized items properly described and authorized to be seized in the search warrant itself?
- If the item to be searched is a computer or other electronic device, are there other bases to protect the information from law enforcement review?
These are just some of the issues that should be reviewed with an experienced Tampa Criminal Defense Lawyer when you have just had your property searched and seized by Law Enforcement.
Since the passage of time can have an adverse effect on recollection and gathering of beneficial evidence, if you have had any evidence seized by Law Enforcement, you should consult with an Attorney with Taracks & Associates as soon as possible.
We welcome the opportunity to discuss the facts of your Search Warrant
Case, and begin to develop the necessary strategy and gather the facts
to properly contest the search and seizure of your property.