Generally, search warrant issues arise in drug offense crimes. In order for a search warrant to be valid and, thus, the search to also be valid, the police must follow the search warrant rules specified in the Pennsylvania Rules of Criminal Procedure:
A search warrant may be issued by:
any issuing authority within the judicial district
where either is located:
or place to be searched
This rule formally authorizes:
magisterial district judges, and judges of the Municipal, Common Pleas, Commonwealth, Superior, and Supreme Courts to issue search warrants.
A search warrant may be issued to search for and to seize:
(1) contraband, the fruits of a crime, or things otherwise criminally possessed; or
(2) property that is or has been used as the means of committing a criminal offense; or
(3) property that constitutes evidence of the commission of a criminal offense.
Warrants may not be issued unless:
the affidavit alleges a pre-existing crime
Warrant may be used to search for and seize
property that is "mere evidence" of a crime
No search warrant shall issue:
but upon probable cause
supported by one or more affidavits
sworn to before the issuing authority
or using advanced communication technology.
Issuing authority, in determining whether probable cause has been established,
may not consider any evidence outside the affidavits.
Mere suspicion is inadequate to establish probable cause,
affidavit need only set forth the fair probability
and not a prima facie case of criminal activity
Hearsay information is sufficient
so long as the magistrate has been provided with sufficient information to make a neutral and detached decision about whether
there is a fair probability that contraband
or evidence of a crime will be found in a particular place.
Ø PA uses a "totality of the circumstances" test
Ø If portion of probable cause section is based on illegal information,
Warrant may still be good if:
other paragraphs of probable cause are valid and sufficient to constitute probable cause.
§ considered together with the results of police surveillance of
§ and defendant's known reputation as a trafficker in contraband,
§ sufficient information given by informant to be reliable
§ informant turned over controlled substance to police may be viewed as corroborative evidence of his reliability
§ Without any more information that corroborated anonymous informant's tip was invalid for search warrant
§ Must have corroboration
§ statements of different informants may be regarded as supporting each other when taken together
If you or someone you love has had their home search pursuant to a search warrant and is facing criminal charges, contact the experienced and aggressive attorneys at the Kelly Law Firm.