Ricky Brown was believed by the DEA to be a heroin dealer. A cooperating witness set up a controlled buy where agents and police were to observe a heroin drug transaction between Mr. Brown and a cooperating witness. On the day the deal was to take place, a number of recorded calls were made between Brown and the witness. After Brown’s vehicle and another SUV left Brown’s home and while they were traveling to a pre-determined location, police stopped the vehicles and searched them. Mr. Brown was in possession of a large sum of cash but no heroin. Another vehicle, driven by a different person but in line with Brown’s vehicle contained a black box that contained heroin.
After the men were arrested, agents secured a search warrant to search Mr. Brown’s home. The search warrant was supported by an affidavit which set forth facts regarding the investigation and tying Mr. Brown to drug dealing. When the home was searched, police found two guns, 60 grams of marijuana, a large amount of cash, a scale and other items. No heroin was located. Mr. Brown was convicted at trial and sent to prison.
Brown filed a Motion to Suppress arguing that there was not probable cause to believe there was evidence related to the heroin transaction. The district court judge denied the motion and allowed the evidence. The ruling was that the affidavit was sufficient to establish probable cause. The court went on to rule that even if the affidavit had not been sufficient, the “good faith exception” would apply and allow for the evidence to be introduced. The “good faith exception” is a rule that is used to allow evidence even if the law was technically violated because the officers had good faith or good intentions.
The United States Court of Appeals reversed the district court and ruled that the evidence should have been suppressed. The Court made the clear point that the 4th Amendment protects citizens from unreasonable searches and seizures, especially in our homes. The appellate judges noted that the connection between the criminal activity and the home must be specific and concrete, not “vague” or “generalized.” In this case, the agents lacked specific information tying the home to the sale or delivery of heroin.
The court rejected the use of the Good Faith Exception. For the Good Faith Exception to apply, there must be some evidence to establish a connection between the criminal activity and the home, even if it is not enough to establish probable cause. If there was some evidence, although not a sufficient amount, and the officers acted in good faith, the Good Faith Exception may have been used and the evidence could have been properly admitted at trial. The district court was wrong for not granting the Motion to Suppress Evidence.
Mr. Brown’s convictions were overturned and the evidence was suppressed. The case was remanded for a new trial, without the evidence.
Motion to Suppress Evidence – Attorneys Who Protect Your Constitutional Rights
If you are charged with a felony or misdemeanor offense and your constitutional rights were violated, not every criminal defense attorney will fight to suppress the evidence. In fact, many defense attorneys do not want to rock the boat with a judge or fight with a prosecutor. The Defense Team with LEWIS & DICKSTEIN, P.L.L.C. is known for fearlessly and tenaciously fighting to protect our clients and keep out improper evidence. Because of our excellent reputation for defending clients, we are frequently able to achieve results that may not have been possible with other attorneys.