Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers litigate and contest search warrant issues perhaps more than any other type of criminal defense specialist. The fact that search warrants are present in almost every significant drug prosecution means that Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers must have substantial expertise in analyzing, developing, and attacking any part of a search warrant that may render it legally deficient. Cases frequently live or die on whether a judge finds that a search warrant is legally sufficient. It is therefore important that clients have at least a rudimentary understanding of search warrants, how they work, and the types of things that can render them invalid. Often, clients are in the best position to refute or explain contested facts that comprise the basis for the warrant. Clients who understand basic search warrant principles are best positioned to assist Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers who are attempting to discover a basis to challenge an underlying warrant in a drug prosecution.
While there are many ways to challenge the validity of a search warrant, perhaps one of the most common and effective involves contesting the veracity of the underlying information that forms the basis for the necessary finding of probable cause. When it appears that an affiant knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth misrepresented material facts in a search warrant affidavit, the remedy for the defense is for Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers to challenge the validity of the warrant pursuant to the United States Supreme Court’s decision in Franks v. Delaware.
As a threshold matter, it is necessary to establish that three fundamental components are in order for a search warrant to be valid. In order to withstand judicial scrutiny, a search warrant must be: issued by a neutral and detached magistrate; set forth under oath or affirmation the facts sufficient to establish probable cause; and particularly describe the place to be searched. Search warrant analysis always requires that all Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers who are determining the adequacy of a search warrant begin by carefully analyzing each of these three primary components.
An additional preliminary consideration entails scrutinizing the affidavit in support of the warrant for inconsistencies or omissions that indicate that the affiant (police officer) made false statements when obtaining the warrant. It is a major mistake to automatically assume that the facts supporting probable cause in the affidavit are truthful. Nationwide, a shocking number of blatant misrepresentations have recently been exposed in many search warrant affidavits.
In the Franks case, the United States Supreme Court ruled that an accused person has the right to a hearing to challenge the sufficiency of an affidavit supporting a search warrant upon meeting two very important initial prerequisites. First, an accused who seeks to challenge the adequacy of a search warrant affidavit must make a “substantial preliminary showing” that law enforcement officers made a false statement or omission “knowingly and intentionally, or with a reckless disregard for the truth.” If the first burden is met, an accused must next show that the statement or omission was “necessary to the finding of probable cause.” At this point, it should be clear that Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers who believe they have a Franks issue and seek a hearing have a very heavy initial burden of proof.
What happens at a Franks Hearing?
If a preliminary showing is made and a Franks hearing granted, a district court judge must make two distinct findings. The first finding that must be made is whether the affiant law enforcement officer made intentionally false or misleading statements or omissions when applying for the search warrant. The judge applies the preponderance of the evidence standard in deciding this issue. If the judge finds it more likely than not that the affiant officer was intentionally false or misleading or intentionally omitted important facts when applying for the search warrant, he will then proceed to the second stage of the analysis, which requires him to assess the impact of the intentionally false or omitted facts upon the finding of probable cause. The second step is slightly more complicated and abstract. It requires the judge to set the affidavit’s false material to the side and then determine if the affidavit’s remaining truthful content is sufficient to establish probable cause. If the judge finds the allegations are proved by a preponderance of the evidence, the search warrant is void, and any evidence obtained as a result of the defective warrant would be excluded from evidence at trial.
Why Franks is important to drug prosecutions
Drug prosecutions extensively rely on search warrants. Generally, the larger the case, the more likely a search warrant will be involved. Clients of Las Vegas drugs crimes lawyers who do not have expertise in litigating Franks issues are at a serious disadvantage. The best Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers will be able to skillfully determine the presence of a Franks issue and pursue it in court. Winning a Franks hearing is usually a knockout blow to the prosecution. Oftentimes, they find that their best evidence is suppressed. Frequently, prosecutors will be forced to dismiss a case after losing a Franks issue. That’s why it is essential that any Las Vegas drug crimes lawyers you consider hiring are experts in this area and all other major areas pertaining to the defense of drug cases in Las Vegas. If you or a loved one is charged with a drug crime in Las Vegas, call Oronoz & Ericsson immediately. We have successfully defended some of the largest drug cases in Nevada. Our track record of success should assure you that you will receive the best defense possible for your or your loved one’s Las Vegas drug crimes case. Call anytime – 702-878-2889. We are happy to help.