Can police lie about having a search warrant?

You are a guest in the homeowners house.  They call the police and say you’re selling drugs there.  The homeowner gives police consent to search the house and a key to the front door.  The police go inside and tell you they have a search warrant (but that’s a lie) and search the place.  They find drugs and drug paraphernalia.  You talk to them (which you shouldn’t do) and admit that the stuff is yours and even tell them where you bought it.  But there’s more, you also sign a written statement admitting all of this (definitely never do this).

Is that legal?

Can the evidence be suppressed so it can’t be used against you?

Based on a new Fourth Circuit opinion – No, it’s not legal and yes the evidence should be suppressed.  The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in U.S.A v. Rush, had the same facts before them.  The Court held that although a violation of the 4th Amendment does not expressly preclude the use of evidence obtained in violation of an unlawful search, there are certain circumstances where the evidence obtained cannot be used against the defendant.

But what if police had consent to search?

The court stated the exclusionary rule is not a personal constitutional right nor is it designed to redress the injury suffered by an unconstitutional search.  The rule’s purpose is to deter future 4th Amendment violations.  Exclusion is appropriate when the deterrence benefits of suppression outweigh the “substantial social costs” of excluding evidence.

When law enforcement claim authority to search a home under a warrant, they announce in effect that the occupant had no right to resist the search.  As such, any consent given after the officer has asserted that he possesses a warrant is not valid.

In this case despite the homeowner giving consent the court stated that the fact the police lied about having a search warrant to the defendant meant that such consent was not valid.

Good faith exception does not apply

Good faith is often used an an exception to the exclusionary rule.  It applies when police act with an objectively reasonable good-faith belief that their conduct is lawful.  Examples have been when police relied on a search warrant that was later ruled to be unsupported by probable cause and therefore invalid.

There was no good faith exception in this case because the search was unconstitutional due to the intentional decision by police to lie to the defendant that there was a search warrant.  A deliberate lie is not negligence or reasonable reliance on faulty information.  Here, there was no doubt that the police lied about having a warrant which is precisely the type of action the exclusionary rule seeks to deter.  The court noted that so long as there is an exclusionary rule, it seems safe to say that it will apply to officers who enter and remain in a house based on false pretenses.

Charleston Criminal Defense Attorney

If you have a search warrant issue call an experienced and trusted Charleston drug crimes lawyer at the Dale Savage Law Firm today for a free case consultation (843) 530-7813.  To often people accused of a crime do not realize they may have defenses to their case and this scenarios should make that clear.  Here there were drugs found, a written confession, and a witness providing incriminating statements.  In short, get a Charleston Criminal defense lawyer to defend your rights. government.

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