Facing criminal charges can be a daunting experience, especially when evidence is obtained through search warrants. There are several difficulties associated with challenging search warrants in Arizona criminal cases. A recently decided appellate case sheds light on the complexities involved in suppressing evidence obtained through GPS tracking devices, and helps demonstrate the importance of a comprehensive defense strategy when defending against Arizona criminal charges.
The defendant in the recently decided case appealed his conviction for the sale or transportation of dangerous drugs and possession of paraphernalia. The case revolves around the use of an anticipatory search warrant obtained by detectives to place a GPS tracking device on the defendant’s vehicle, suspected of transporting narcotics. The warrant was based on information from a confidential informant about an older male, matching the description of the defendant who would be delivering narcotics to a specific address in Chino Valley.
The Challenge of Specificity
The defendant’s defense centered on challenging the validity of the search warrant, arguing that it lacked the necessary specificity and failed to establish probable cause. The Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution requires search warrants to particularly describe the places to be searched and the persons or things to be seized. The crucial question here is whether the warrant provided enough specific details to prevent mistaken searches and seizures.
The Anticipatory Nature of the Warrant
The search warrant, in this case, was anticipatory, meaning it was conditioned on certain events occurring, such as live surveillance confirming the arrival of a vehicle matching the description and the informant confirming the delivery of drugs during that time. The warrant was then updated with the defendant’s identity after the events unfolded. The defendant argued that because the warrant did not initially identify him or his vehicle, it lacked probable cause.
The court, in its decision, highlighted that the Fourth Amendment requires sufficient particularity, ensuring executing officers can identify the premises and items with reasonable effort. The court also emphasized that probable cause is established when there is a fair probability that contraband or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.
The court acknowledged that the GPS search warrant did not contain the defendant’s name or vehicle license plate number initially, as this information was unknown at the time of obtaining the warrant. However, it found that the warrant described an older male driving a metallic truck with enough particularity to allow detectives to identify the vehicle and its driver without mistakenly searching elsewhere.
Ultimately, the court affirmed the conviction, asserting that the GPS search warrant was sufficiently particular and supported by probable cause. This decision highlights the challenges defendants face when contesting search warrants in Arizona criminal cases. People charged with crimes in Arizona should be aware of the legal intricacies involved in challenging evidence obtained through such warrants and seek competent legal representation to navigate these complexities effectively.
Have You Been Arrested or Charged with a Crime?
Navigating the legal landscape can be challenging, but understanding the nuances of search warrant challenges is essential for anyone facing criminal charges in Arizona. If you find yourself in such a situation, consult with an experienced Arizona criminal defense attorney with the Law Office of James E. Novak, and we can start preparing your defense. We represent people charged with all types of Arizona crimes, including drug offenses. To schedule a no obligation consultation to discuss your case, call 480-413-1499 or reach out through our online form.