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Defects in Warrants under Pennsylvania law

The exclusionary rule is a constitutional remedy used to suppress evidence obtained from an illegal search or seizure.  The exclusionary rule does not automatically apply whenever the defendant alleges that a warrant contains a defect.  The exclusionary rule only applies where: (1) the defect rises to the level of a constitutional violation; (2) the defect is a result of a deliberate misstatement by the affiant; or (3) the defect substantially prejudices the defendant. Com. v. Wholaver; see also Com. Ruey.  Mere techincal noncompliance with the Rules of Criminal Procedure relating to searches and seizures and the requirements for a warrant are not sufficient to warrant exclusion of the evidence.

The two essential elements for the issuance of a warrant are (1) the affiant must state, with specificity, the place to be searched and the items to be seized and (2) the warrant must contain facts that would enable a detached, neutral magistrate reading the warrant in a common-sense fashion, would believe there is a fair probability that the place to be searched or items to be seized contain evidence of a crime.  Accordingly, a defect rises to the level of a constitutional violation only where the defect would negate one of those two elements.  
Similarly, courts will presume that the defect does not substantially prejudice the defendant where the defect does not rise to the level of a constitutional violation. Where the defect is not a constitutional violation, the defendant must allege substantial prejudice based on the surrounding facts of the case. 

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