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Legal Memorandum: Suppression of Evidence

Issue: What is the standard used by courts to determine whether to suppress evidence obtained from a search warrant based on a false affidavit?

Area of Law: Litigation & Procedure
Keywords: Suppression of evidence; False search warrant affidavit
Jurisdiction: Alabama
Cited Cases: 645 So. 2d 320; 371 So. 2d 999; 555 So. 2d 342; 455 So. 2d 115; 266 So. 2d 328; 353 So. 2d 54
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 10/01/2007

The proper forum for a defendant to seek to suppress evidence arising from a false search warrant affidavit is by motion to the trial court.  The trial court hearing that motion is vested with jurisdiction to resolve any claim that the search warrant was predicated on evidence obtained in violation of federal or state constitutional standards.  People v. Cook, 583 P.2d 130 (Cal. 1978).  Further, the question whether a search is lawful is a question of law for the trial court’s determination based upon evidence presented in cameraHouk v. State, 455 So. 2d 115, 118 (Ala. Crim. App. 1984).

When a suppression motion is brought before the trial court, the defendant must establish by a preponderance of the evidence that the affiant made a false statement in his or her search warrant affidavit knowingly and intentionally, or with reckless disregard for the truth.  Brumback v. State, 371 So. 2d 999, 1006 (Ala. Crim. App. 1979).  The weight and credibility to be attached to the testimony of the witnesses during the suppression hearing is a question for the trial court.  Id. at 1006.

Finally, when the defendant makes an initial showing that there has been a misrepresentation of a material fact in a search warrant affidavit—whether intentional or unintentional—the defendant “is entitled to delve below the surface of a facially sufficient affidavit.”  Houk, 455 So. 2d at 118. 

In Franks v. Delaware, the United States Supreme Court […]

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