Robert J. Shane - The Best Defense


I recently represented a client who was charged in Anoka County District Court with 5th Degree Controlled Substance crime. Police officers executed a search warrant at the defendant’s residence eleven days after the warrant was issued by the court. Officers located a felony amount of marijuana in his bedroom.

The law in Minnesota regarding the execution and return of search warrants is found in Minn. Stat. §626.15(a) which provides as follows:

“Except as provided in paragraph (b), a search warrant must be executed and returned to the court which issued it within ten days after its date. After the expiration of this time, the warrant is void unless previously executed.”

The Minnesota legislature has specified by statute when a warrant becomes stale. The legislature has determined that 10 days is a reasonable amount of time to execute the warrant. If the warrant cannot be served within 10 days, the remedy is for the police to return to the issuing magistrate for a redetermination of probable cause and a new warrant.

We filed a motion with the court to suppress the evidence and to dismiss the felony drug charge for lack of probable cause. The prosecution argued that the warrant was not stale on the eleventh day as there was evidence of on-going drug sales at the residence. The prosecutor urged the court to deny the motion to suppress. The court determined that the statute is clear on its face and not subject to interpretation. Any warrant served after the ten day time limit is void and the evidence must be suppressed. The suppression remedy is designed to deter future police misconduct. The message is clear. If police serve a void search warrant, the evidence will be suppressed and the case dismissed.

If a narcotics search warrant has been served at your residence, call drug defense attorney Robert J. Shane for the “Best Defense.”