Criminal Defense: Search Warrants

By Maynard & Sumner, LLC of Maynard & Sumner, LLC posted in Criminal Defense on Monday, October 15, 2012.

On Friday, October 5, 2012, local and federal authorities arrested a Newark woman for possession of 16 grams of cocaine, 200 grams of marijuana, drug paraphernalia and a loaded semiautomatic handgun. The arrest came after a search warrant was executed. The criminal defenses to these charges can arise from the improper issuance or execution of the search warrant.

In the State of New Jersey, there are three distinct circumstances by which state and federal law enforcement may obtain a search warrant:

  1. Normal case: by which an applicant personally appears before a judge and provides sworn testimony or an affidavit setting forth the factual basis (probable cause) for the warrant;
  2. Telephone or verbal warrant: followed by written documentation, law enforcement communicates the probable cause to a judge by phone or other electronic means (usually done in exigent circumstances);
  3. Anticipatory warrants: “warrants based on reliable facts establishing that probable cause will develop at a designated time and place in the future”;

It is commonly misperceived that a “no-knock” warrant is a fourth type. However, it is not a warrant, but relates to the means of execution. Warrants have an established knock-and-announce rule. Therefore, police must have a fact-specific and fact-sensitive explanation as to why an unannounced entry is needed.

In the case of the Newark, New Jersey woman, it is unclear as to what probable cause was ascertained to obtain the search warrant or whether the warrant was properly executed. In criminal defense matters, if a search warrant was not properly executed, all evidence obtained by means of that improper execution may be barred in use at a trial.

If you have been arrested after the execution of a search warrant, contact an experienced criminal defense lawyer who will investigate whether the warrant was properly issued and executed within the perimeters of the law.

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