Attacking a search warrant as overbroad or unsupported by probable cause
The Fourth Amendment to the Constitution protects individuals from “unreasonable searches and seizures.” To comply with the Fourth Amendment, the search warrant must specify the crime or crimes to which the evidence is related. If there is no probable cause connection between the items to be seized and the crime under investigation, then the warrant is overbroad. This is so even if the warrant does establish probable cause to believe that a specific person committed the alleged crime. For example, a warrant authorizing the seizure of an individual’s computer may be specific enough in a Medicare fraud case. In a homicide case, however, it may not be. Rarely do defendants plan a violent crime on their computer. If the warrant does not specifically tie the computer to the crime, it may be unconstitutionally overbroad.
The officer’s “experience” does not create probable cause
Sometimes, when law enforcement has little or no information to link the crime to the evidence to be seized, an officer will rely on his “experience and expectations” to try to establish probable cause. The officer will make a general statement in the affidavit, to the effect that in his experience investigating similar crimes, he often has found evidence of the crime in the suspect’s home (or computer, storage shed, etc.), and that he expects to find evidence related to the crime in the present case. A savvy Boston criminal defense lawyer will be skeptical of general allegations like these, which often have no basis in fact, and will challenge the warrant as lacking probable cause.
A knowledgeable and experienced Boston criminal defense lawyer can help protect your rights as you move through the criminal justice system. Contact us by phone at 617-492-0055 or by using our online contact form to schedule a free in-office consultation with Attorney Kevin J. Mahoney.
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