What You Should Know About a Motion to Quash a Warrant
In most cases, law enforcement authorities need the warrant to conduct a legal search and seizure. Searches can include the search of a residence, a person, a place of business, or a vehicle. Seizures can involve authorities confiscating evidence from your property or arresting individuals named in the warrant. The law allows searches and seizures without a warrant in specific circumstances. In many cases, clients come to us asking, Can a search warrant be quashed? If a warrant was obtained improperly or illegally, a defendant could file a motion to quash the warrant with the goal of having any evidence seized during its execution excluded from evidence.
Law enforcement must satisfy a number of requirements when applying for and executing a warrant. The failure to do so could lead to the exclusion of evidence obtained through the warrant. If you think authorities in your case lied on the warrant application, contact New Mexico Criminal Law Offices today.
Warrant Requirements in New Mexico: An Overview
As stated above, law enforcement authorities often obtain warrants prior to conducting a search or a seizure, subject to limited exceptions. Given New Mexico’s strong preference for warrants, the state imposes stringent requirements on officers attempting to obtain a warrant. If authorities fail to meet any of the requirements, the court could suppress the evidence that was seized during the search.
To obtain a warrant, an officer must present an affidavit that contains sufficient facts that allow the magistrate or judge issuing the warrant to independently determine the existence of probable cause. For a search warrant, probable cause means that a person of reasonable caution could justifiably believe that the items sought are evidence of a crime and might be found on the premises the officers want to search.
Description of Premises and Evidence
First, the affiant must particularly describe the premises they want to search. A specific description of the intended search target should include details that would enable another officer to identify the area to be searched with reasonable effort. Additionally, the search warrant must provide a specific description of the evidence the authorities are seeking and establish the affiant’s reason for believing the items sought are evidence of a crime. This requirement prevents authorities from conducting general searches of someone’s property in the hopes they find something illegal. For instance, suppose authorities are investigating drug trafficking. The warrant would likely list any controlled substance and items used for packaging, selling, and transporting drugs. A general description like “items that evidence criminal activity” would not sufficiently describe the evidence the authorities were searching for.
Connecting Evidence with Investigation
To establish their reason for believing the items sought are evidence of a crime, the affiant should include certain information. They could describe how the investigation began, the nature of the suspected crime, or a description of how the crime was committed. The affiant must also include the nature of the information, whether they observed the crime directly, talked to a confidential informant, or came upon the information another way.
Further, the affiant must provide reasons for believing the evidence is located in the place that they want to search. For example, if the affiant saw a defendant carrying stolen property into their home, he would provide this observation as proof that the evidence is currently inside the home. Alternatively, if the evidence authorities are seeking relates to a criminal defendant, the affiant can establish that a particular person who is suspected of committing a crime resides at the premises.
The Staleness Issue
Affiants must act quickly with information to obtain a search warrant. The court can reject an affidavit if the information is “stale,” meaning that a significant amount of time has passed between the affiant receiving information and the application for the warrant. For example, the issue of staleness arises relatively quickly in a case involving a motel room. Motel rooms are often used for a short period of time by one party before a different occupant moves in.
What Is a Motion to Quash a Warrant?
In the legal system, a motion to quash a warrant means you want to void the warrant. New Mexico allows defendants to file a motion to suppress evidence no less than 60 days before trial. Courts will suppress evidence obtained in violation of the defendant’s constitutional rights, including the Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable searches and seizures.
Grounds for a Motion to Quash a Warrant
There are a number of different grounds for a motion to quash a warrant. Some of the common grounds include:
- Deliberate or reckless inaccurate statements on the warrant application affidavit;
- Lack of reliability of a confidential informant;
- Inadequate description of the premises; or
- Insufficient description of evidence.
Any of these situations can constitute grounds for a motion to quash a warrant. However, this is not an exhaustive list. A criminal charges defense attorney at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices can listen to the information surrounding your case. Then, we can help determine if you have any other grounds to quash a warrant executed against you.
Need Information on a Motion to Quash a Warrant? Contact Our Office Today
Our team at the New Mexico Criminal Law Offices has dedicated their practice to protecting the rights of our clients facing criminal charges. Since 1997, we have represented individuals facing a multitude of different criminal allegations. We pride ourselves on offering an individualized approach, and our team thoroughly reviews each case to ensure we prepare the best defense strategy for your set of facts. We will do everything in our power to secure a favorable outcome for our clients. Our lawyers have the experience and knowledge necessary to give you an aggressive and effective defense in court. If you have questions about a motion to quash a warrant, contact our office today.