United States v. Evans 8thCIR 6NOV2018

United States v. Evans 8thCIR 6NOV2018

In this case, the defendant raised five issues on appeal, the first of which deals directly with the legal aspects of law enforcement.  The issue is: Did the warrant application sufficiently establish probable cause as required under the Fourth Amendment?

The “warrant clause” to the Fourth Amendment states: “… no Warrants shall issue but upon probable cause, supported by Oath or affirmation, and particularly describing the place to be searched, and the persons or things to be seized.”  The amendment requires probable cause for a warrant to be issued. The particularity requirement is what prevents the government from going on evidence fishing expeditions by narrowly defining the scope of the search by limiting WHERE the government can look and WHAT the government can look for.

The defendant in this case argued that there was no probable cause that he was involved in the criminal activity (robbery) and no probable cause that there was evidence of the robbery in his motel room.  The Eighth Circuit disagreed and held that the warrant application established a “fair probability” that the defendant was the robber and that evidence would be found in the motel room.

There is no mechanical formula for probable cause determinations. They are very fact specific and sometimes the facts easily support a finding of probable cause … but sometimes it is a close call.  If you are involved in writing search warrant applications, it is a good idea to read these cases to get a feel for where the PC line may be in your case.

To read or download the full decision CLICK HERE