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Can I Challenge a Search Warrant?

July 25, 2020

A Franks motion is the legal document used to challenge the truth of the information used to support a search motion.

Can I Challenge a Search Warrant?

If you have been arrested for a crime, your arrest may have been based on evidence that the police seized pursuant to a search warrant. But what happens if you believe that the police lied when obtaining that search warrant? Can you challenge it — and possibly have the evidence seized thrown out?

The short answer is yes. According to a criminal defense lawyer in San Bernardino, CA, you can challenge a search warrant that was based on faulty information. This is known as traversing a warrant, and it is done through a legal document known as a Franks motion. If this motion succeeds, then the judge may suppress all or some of the evidence that was seized under the warrant.

Under both California law and the U.S. Constitution, a warrant can only be issued upon a showing of probable cause. This is defined as a reasonable belief that criminal activity either has taken place, or is taking place. A police officer or prosecutor requests a search warrant from a judge. To support their application for a warrant, the law enforcement officer or prosecutor gives an oral or written affidavit, which is essentially a statement of facts that leads them to believe that there is probable cause. For example, a police officer seeking a warrant for a drug case may state that he has noted people coming and going from a house at odd times, staying short periods of time, and that a witness has informed him that he has bought drugs from that person.

If a person believes that the affidavit used to support an application for a search warrant contained false information, they may attempt to traverse the search warrant. This is done by filing a Franks motion (which is named after a United States Supreme Court case, Franks v. Delaware). In the Franks motion, your criminal defense lawyer in San Bernardino, CA will lay out an argument as to why the search warrant should be traversed. For example, your attorney may argue that the affidavit contained false statements, a misstatement of facts, or misleading information that the judge relied on to issue the warrant. Alternatively, your lawyer may argue that the affidavit omitted material information that would have convinced the judge to not issue the warrant.

The trial court will hold a Franks hearing if they find these arguments to be persuasive. This hearing is held in the judge’s chambers, and involves each side presenting evidence to support or challenge the warrant. The judge may also question the person who wrote the affidavit. If the judge agrees with your criminal defense lawyer in San Bernardino, CA, then they may grant the Franks order and suppress (throw out) some or all of the evidence seized under the warrant.

There are many legal challenges that may be made in criminal cases. The Chambers Law Firm is adept at evaluating the facts of a particular case against California law, and then advocating for their clients’ rights. To learn more or to schedule a consultation with our law firm, contact us today at 855-397-0210 or dchambers@clfca.com.

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