In order for an investigator to obtain a search warrant, they have to prove to a magistrate judge that they have probable cause that a criminal activity occurred or is occurring. Probable cause basically means that investigators can communicate a “reasonable belief” that a criminal activity is taking place. Investigating officers have to lay out this probable cause in an affidavit attached to an application for search warrant. Then, a magistrate judge will review the affidavit and application and grant or deny the warrant. In addition to the written affidavit, magistrates may consider oral testimony of the officers during the warrant application process.
In Georgia, the courts have laid out several scenarios that instruct when probable cause has or has not been communicated. For example, a tip from a confidential informant in a drug case is not enough to establish probable cause. The tip would have to be corroborated by other circumstances. However, if police come to your door and you voluntarily speak with them and admit to a crime, there is enough probable cause to obtain a search warrant.
If a warrant is granted and it lacked probable cause, the warrant is bad and any search resulting from the warrant violates your Fourth Amendment rights. In this case, you need a lawyer to argue that your rights have been violated and that any evidence obtained during the execution of the bad search warrant must be suppressed.
At the Law Offices of W. Scott Smith, we are experienced at spotting issues with search warrants and often successful at having evidence suppressed. Often, after a judge has ruled that evidence must be suppressed, prosecutors are more willing to negotiate or even dismiss charges because they no longer have a strong case. If you are in Cobb, Clayton. Fulton, Gwinnett, Henry, or Rockdale County and are charged with a serious offense like Violation of the Georgia Controlled Substance Act, trafficking drugs, or possession of drugs with the intent to distribute and believe that your Fourth Amendment rights have been violated by a warrant lacking probable cause, call us for a free consultation at 404-581-0999.