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UNLAWFUL SEARCHES: INVALID SEARCH WARRANTS CAN RESULT IN CRIMINAL CASE DISMISSALS

Many prosecutions of criminal cases involving drug offenses begin with the execution of a search warrant. It is essential that the warrant affidavit — the document a law enforcement officer presents to a judge to justify the issuance of a warrant — be scrutinized for accuracy. Ensuring the affidavit’s accuracy can be the make or break moment in a case involving alleged drug offenses.

If an officer makes a claim or representation that is materially false, an experienced attorney should request a “Franks Hearing.” This special hearing arises from the United States Supreme Court case Franks v. Delaware, 438 U.S. 154 (U.S. 1978), where the Court affirmed the right of a defendant to challenge a warrant seizing their person, papers or effects and outlining the alleged criminal activity.

A Franks Hearing can be requested to 1) determine if the representation in the affidavit is, in fact, false; and 2) if so, determine whether probable cause still exists for the warrant if the false statement is removed from the affidavit. If the representation is false and no probable cause exists absent the false representation, the search is invalid and the evidence seized will be suppressed.

Why is this so important? Suppression of the evidence obtained in the invalid search can result in dismissal of criminal charges.

Another issue that arises in these cases is whether there is a nexus (or connection) between the evidence the police are looking for and the place where they want to search for it. A classic example arises in situations where a person is found to be in possession of contraband at a location other than their house and police apply for a search warrant to search a suspect’s house.

These are just two examples of issues that can be identified by an experienced criminal defense attorney. Twin Cities criminal defense attorney Matthew Mankey and Mankey Law Office have been defending these and other criminal law issues for 30 years. Mankey keeps pace with the fast-evolving criminal laws in drug and firearms. It’s important to hire an experienced criminal defense attorney because the penalties for drugs or firearms convictions are getting more and more severe.

If your home or office is searched by law enforcement, don’t speak to them. Protect your rights and call an experienced defense attorney immediately.