California Search Warrant by Darren Chaker

Darren Chaker affidavit for warrant
Darren Chaker affidavit for warrant
Search Warrant basics by Darren Chaker.

Darren Chaker reviews search and seizure law in California and how a search warrant is obtained. Pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the Unites States Constitution, a search warrant must be supported by probable cause. However, the showing required to establish probable cause is not beyond a reasonable doubt. “The task of the issuing magistrate is simply to make a practical, commonsense decision whether, given all the circumstances set forth in the affidavit before him, … there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.” (Illinois v. Gates (1983) 462 U.S. 213, 238, 103 S.Ct. 2317, 2332, 76 L.Ed.2d 527.)

An affidavit in support of a search warrant must describe with reasonable particularity the place to be searched and the places to be seized. (People v. Alvarado (1967) 255 Cal.App.2d 285, 291; People v. Barthel (1965) 231 Cal.App.2d 827, 832.) The test for the latter is “whether the warrant places a meaningful restriction on the objects to be seized.” (People v. Alvarado, supra, 255 Cal.App.2d at p. 291;People v. Barthel, supra, 231 Cal.App.2d at p. 832.)

Darren Chaker notes on a motion to quash a search warrant, “the question facing a reviewing court asked to determine whether probable cause supported the issuance of the warrant is whether the magistrate had a substantial basis for concluding a fair probability existed that a search would uncover wrongdoing.” (People v. Kraft (2000) 23 Cal.4th 978, 1040.) This is accomplished by reviewing only the “four corners” of the warrant, and no other outside sources. (See United States v. Luong (9th Cir. 2006) 470 F.3d 898, 904-05;People v. Costello (1988) 204 Cal.App.3d 431, 451.)

Darren Chaker also notes, probable cause “is a fluid concept – turning on the assessment of probabilities in a particular factual case….” (Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at p. 232, 103 S.Ct. at p. 2329.) Second, because affidavits “are normally drafted by nonlawyers in the midst and haste of a criminal investigation,” “[t]technical requirements of elaborate specificity once exacted under common law pleadings have no proper place ….” (United States v. Ventresca (1965) 380 U.S. 102, 108, 85 S.Ct. 741, 746, 13 L.Ed.2d 684.)

The search warrant affidavit “must provide a substantial basis from which a magistrate can reasonably conclude there is a fair probability that the place to be searched contains contraband or evidence of a crime.” (People v. Hernandez (1994) 30 Cal.App.4th 919, 923; see also Illinois v. Gates, 462 U.S. at p. 238, 103 S. Ct. at p. 2332 [affidavit must establish a “fair probability that evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.”].) “The question-similar to every inquiry into probable cause-is whether all of the facts …, viewed through the lens of common sense, would make a reasonably prudent person think that a search would reveal contraband or evidence of a crime.” (Florida v. Harris (2013)     U.S. , 133 S.Ct. 1050, 1053, 185 L.Ed.2d 61; see also Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at pp. 235-36, 103 S.Ct. at p. 2331 [warrants are properly issued “on the basis of nontechnical, common-sense judgments of laymen applying a standard less demanding than those used in more formal legal proceedings.”)

Last, Darren Chaker reminds readers that, “[L]ogical inferences may be drawn and the magistrate may consider matters of common knowledge concerning human behavior.” (People v. Miller (1978) 85 Cal.App.3d 194, 200; see also Illinois v. Gates, supra, 462 U.S. at p. 240, 103 S.Ct. at p. 2333 [magistrates are free to “draw such reasonable inferences as he will from the material supplied to him by applicants for a warrant”].) In People v. Ulloa (2002) 101 Cal.App.4th 1000, 1007, [*13]  the Court of Appeal upheld a warrant to seize all computers within the defendant’s home even though there was no direct evidence in the affidavit that the defendant had a home computer, because “home computers are now common;” and because the defendant had been communicating with a minor by computer, and “it was reasonable to assume that the computer would contain relevant incriminating information, and that the computer would be located in defendant’s home.”

Search Warrants Federal Law by Darren Chaker

darren chaker article

 

darren chaker article
Search warrant being served, article by Darren Chaker

Darren Chaker article on search and seizure law.  The “‘physical entry of the home is the chief evil against which the wording of the Fourth Amendment is directed.”‘ Payton v. New York, 445 U.S. 573, 585 (1980) (citation omitted). Indeed, the Fourth Amendment “ordinarily prohibits] the warrantless entry of a person’s house as unreasonable per se.” Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103, 109 (2006). Often times, police gain entry to a home or hotel through ‘apparent authority’, often a guest or roommate.

“A ‘search’ occurs when an expectation of privacy that society is prepared to consider reasonable is infringed.” United States v. Jacobsen, 466 U.S. 109, 113 (1984). “Almost a century ago the Court stated in resounding terms that the principles reflected in the [Fourth] Amendment. . . ‘apply to all invasions on the part of the government and its employees of the sanctity of a man’s home.”‘ Payton, 445 U.S. at 585 (quoting Boyd v. United States, 116 U.S. 616, 630 (1886)). “It is a ‘basic principle of Fourth Amendment law’ that searches and seizures inside a home without a warrant are presumptively unreasonable.” Id. at 586 (quoting Coolidge v. New Hampshire, 403 U.S. 443, 477 (1971)).

Indeed, “a warrantless entry to search for weapons or contraband is unconstitutional even when a felony has been committed and there is probable cause to believe that incriminating evidence will be found within.” Id. at 587-588. See also id. at 588 n.26 (“‘It is settled doctrine that probable cause for belief that certain articles subject to seizure are in a dwelling cannot of itself justify a search without a warrant.”‘) (quoting Jones v. United States, 357 U.S. 493, 497 (1958)).

Darren Chaker also notes in Stoner v. California, 376 U.S. 483 (1964), for example, a hotel clerk’s consent to police entering the defendant’s room did not cure the officers’ failure to get a warrant. “It is true,” the Court explained, “that when a person engages a hotel room he undoubtedly gives ‘implied or express permission’ to ‘such persons as maids, janitors or repairmen’ to enter his room ‘in the performance of their duties.’ But the conduct of the night clerk and the police in the present case was of an entirely different order.” Id. at 489 (quoting United States v. Jeffers, 342 U.S. 48, 51 (1951)). The conduct was to search the defendant’s room for evidence of armed robbery, and there was “nothing in the record to indicate that the police had any basis whatsoever to believe that the night clerk had been authorized by the [defendant] to permit the police to search [his] room.” Id.

Likewise, in Chapman v. United States, 365 U.S. 610 (1961), a landlord’s consent to police entering the defendant’s home did not cure the officers’ failure to get a warrant. Though the landlord had passed the home, smelled what he thought might be illicit liquor, and had the right under state law to inspect the premises for waste, the Court rejected the notion that he thus had authority to admit the police: “‘ [T]heir purpose in entering was not to view waste but to search for distilling equipment,”‘ and “to uphold such an entry, search and seizure ‘without a warrant would reduce the Fourth Amendment to a nullity and leave tenants’ homes secure only in the discretion of landlords.”‘ Id. at 616-617. See also, United States v. Reid, 226 F.3d 1020, 1026 (9th Cir. 2000) (no apparent authority where officer knew person who consented to entry, despite answering front door, was not registered tenant and had not been seen in the building by other residents).

The Court reaffirmed these principles in Georgia v. Randolph, 547 U.S. 103 (2006): “A person on the scene who identifies himself, say, as a landlord or a hotel manager calls up no customary understanding of authority to admit guests without the consent of the current occupant.” Id. at 112.

In sum, the law provides basic instruction on the obligations of police prior to relying on apparent authority of a person to conduct entry, or search of a residence or hotel.