Sample Search Warrant
To: Partner From: Junior Associate Re: DC v Blake INTRODUCTION OF THE ISSUES: Police officers were called to Mr. Smith’s residency regarding a noise violation on February 4th, 2007. Officers observed the occupants, including Mr. Jonathon Blake, through the large front window of the dwelling engaged in activity that appeared to the officers as smoking marijuana. They also witnessed Mr. Blake hand over a small plastic baggie filled with suspected cocaine to another occupant.
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The officers were granted access to the home by Mr. Smith and noticed what appeared to be a shotgun between the couch cushions. Further inspection of the residence revealed three additional guns. Mr. Blake had a large amount of suspected marijuana and cocaine and $400 on his person. Mr. Blake is being charged with Possession of a Controlled Substance, Distribution of a Controlled Substance, and Possession of an Unregistered Firearm.
It is in my professional opinion that the seized drugs are admissible to the court as evidence but the guns however, are not. RULE OF LAW: As you know, the United States Constitution and its Amendments were created with the intent to protect citizens’ inalienable rights. Procedural criminal law specifically outlines the proper way(s) to enforce substantive criminal law as to ensure that an individual’s due process rights, as described within the Bill of Rights, are not violated.
The Fourth Amendment protects citizens against unlawful (warrantless) searches and seizures. It also delineates the instances in which a search and/or seizure is appropriate without a warrant (i. e. Plain View Doctrine, Stop and Frisk, Plain Feel Doctrine, Search Incident to a Lawful Arrest). In Mr. Blake’s case, based on the exigent circumstances and the nature of the evidence involved, the officers had the legal duty to conduct all of the aforementioned warrantless, but legal, searches. ANALYSIS: As the officers approached Mr.
Smith’s residence, several occupants appeared to be engaged in illegal activity (i. e. smoking marijuana) through the large front room window. They also witnessed Mr. Blake hand a baggie containing a white powder (that appeared to be cocaine) to an individual standing near the front door. Both of these occurrences happened within Plain View of the officers. At this point, the officers had probable cause to believe that illegal activity was being conducted and attempted to make contact with the occupants.
Mr. Smith granted the officers access to his home. Upon entering the dwelling, officers noticed what appeared to be a shotgun in Plain View. Further investigation of the area within the defendants immediate control (the living room), as specified in a Search Incident to Lawful Arrest, resulted in the discovery of three additional firearms. In order to protect the safety of both the officers and the occupants, the officers had the legal obligation to detain the occupants and conduct Stop and Frisk searches.
While performing the search of Mr. Blake’s person, officers legally seized a large amount of what appeared to be marijuana and cocaine and $400. This seizure was justified by the Plain Feel Doctrine that allows officers to seize any readily apparent contraband found during a Stop and Frisk. The District of Columbia statute regarding the possession of a controlled substance requires that the defendant 1) possessed a controlled substance and 2) did so knowingly and intentionally.
The distribution of a controlled substance requires that 1) the substance was distributed, 2) it was distributed knowingly and intentionally, 3) at the time of distribution, the defendant was at least 21 years of age and that 4) the person(s) to whom the substance was distributed was under the age of 18, and finally 5) the distribution was of a specified gram weight. In Mapp v. Ohio, the United States Supreme Court overturned the conviction of Dollree Mapp for being in possession of obscene material due to the nature in which the evidence was seized.
Officers forcibly entered the Mapp residence and performed an illegal warrantless search in a situation that didn’t render the necessary exigent circumstances. This landmark case explicitly made the Exclusionary Rule applicable to state proceedings, not just federal proceedings, justifying it as an essential part of criminal procedure as a basic human right. Another case appealed to the United States Supreme Court was that of Minnesota v. Carter. Carter and Johns, the defendants in this case, were convicted at the state level of conspiracy to commit a controlled substance crime in the first degree.
The defendants were temporary guests in Thompsons home. An officer witnessed the three individuals through a gap in a drawn window blind engaged in illegal activity which appeared to be the bagging of cocaine. The defendants appealed their case, stating that their Fourth Amendment right was violated due to an illegal search and seizure. Ultimately, the Supreme Court upheld the original decision based on the grounds that the defendants Fourth Amendment rights only pertained to them in their own dwelling or as an extended guest in another’s dwelling, not merely because they were temporarily present.
As stated previously, the searches conducted on Mr. Blake’s person were done so legally due to the extenuating circumstances involved with his case. Therefore, the Exclusionary Rule, as justified in Mapp v. Ohio, doesn’t pertain to Mr. Blake’s case. Additionally, based upon the ultimate verdict in Minnesota v. Carter, Mr. Smith’s right to privacy does not extend to Mr. Blake due to his only temporary presence in the residence. Therefore, a Fourth Amendment privacy violation wouldn’t be an appropriate defense for Mr. Blake.
CONCLUSION: Based upon the facts of this case and various legal provisions, there is significant reason to believe that Mr. Blake will be convicted of Possession of a Controlled Substance. Once the age of the defendant and the individual to whom the drugs were distributed are determined, it is probable that Mr. Blake will also be charged with Distribution of a controlled substance. Until the ownership of the firearms is determined, Mr. Blake has the standing to appeal the charge based on the fact that additional occupants were present in Mr. Smith’s residence.