Let’s say that as a part of an ongoing investigation into suspected drug dealing, the police have obtained a search warrant for your computer. The search warrant gives the Minnesota Bureau of Criminal Apprehension permission to search your computer for “photographs, internet searches, communications including but not limited to emails, videos, stored data, and any and all data on a hard drive.” During the course of the search, the investigator discovers evidence of an unrelated crime such as photographs depicting child pornography or cash proceeds from a recent bank robbery. Instead of being charged with conspiracy to distribute narcotics, you are charged with felony possession of child pornography or bank robbery. What’s your defense?
The key lies with the general language used in the search warrant itself. The United States and the Minnesota Constitution both require that a search warrant be based on probable cause and describe with particularly the place to be searched and the items to be seized. In the above example, the description provided in the computer search warrant is worded in general terms. Photographs of what? Emails concerning what crime? What kind of data? There is no link between the language used in the warrant and drug dealing. A search warrant that does not describe the items to be seized with particularity is facially invalid and the evidence must be suppressed by the court. A computer can now store huge volumes of personal information that needs to be protected against a sweeping search by law enforcement. Your personal affairs are your affairs. The particularity requirements for search warrants provides the constitutional protection you need and your defense.
If you have been charged with a crime involving evidence seized through the use of a computer search warrant, you may have a defense. Call Minneapolis criminal defense attorney Robert J. Shane now for a free phone consultation at (612) 339-1024. Find out if you can file a motion to dismiss your charges based on the use of general language in the search warrant itself.